A thesis statement introduces the topic of the essay and gives the reader an idea of the supporting argument to prove the thesis. Essentially, the thesis statement is intended to summarize what the paper says. The book Night by author Elie Wiesel recounts his time confined to the death camps, specifically Auschwitz, in Nazi-controlled Poland during World War II. There are many possible thesis statements to use, given how Wiesel explores his emotions during this period and the terrible things that happened to him and to other inmates in the camp. The thesis statement depends on the direction that you want to take your essay because there are many topics to explore in Night.
One possible topic could be the cruelty that was carried out and inflicted on other human beings by the Nazis. There are many examples of this cruelty in the book to support an essay on the topic. You could outline unspeakable acts of cruelty and question how people could behave the way the Nazis did. The thesis statement could be: Night details the terrible and seemingly inhuman behavior of one group of people, the Nazis, to others.
Conversely, you could take this essay in an entirely different direction and talk about the unbelievable spiritual resilience that many in the camp had despite the torture and cruelties to which they were subjected. Elie meets a woman who treats him with tenderness after he has been beaten up and implores him not to seek revenge now but to wait until he is in a position of strength, presumably after the war has ended. She shows incredible courage in how she treats him and there are other examples showing people who retain the courage and will to endure the brutality in the hope of an end to it. Thus, other possible thesis statement could be: Night explores the strength of the human spirit to go on and endure in the face of intense cruelty, with optimism that there will be an end and a better life ahead.
The first step in constructing a good thesis is to choose a broad topic or theme that you'd like to examine within the book. You'll want to be careful to work with a topic or theme for which you can provide an abundance of textual support, and readers notice different things about a book as they read. This is one of the reasons reading is such a personal experience.
Students also often find it helpful to construct a thesis that easily lends itself to the body paragraphs which will follow. If your teacher, for example, is asking for a five-paragraph essay, you may want to build three key points into your thesis.
One of the themes in the book centers around the cruelty of humans. This has various effects on Elie and others as they fight to survive. A thesis could look something like this:
Enduring ongoing cruelty can make people feel hopeless, can cause them to inflict cruelty on others, and can make them question their religion.
Your three body paragraphs would then support each of those three key ideas, focusing on various evidence throughout the work.
Another theme of the novel is the unpredictability of human nature. Remember that when the book opens, Moishe the Beadle tried to warn everyone that they were in great danger; the townspeople chose to ignore him. The soldiers inflict great pain on other humans without any real reason for their malice; they simply follow orders and in ways that continually shocks those who are imprisoned. Both the son of the rabbi and Elie turn their backs on their fathers near the end and after they have endured great trials together. A thesis for this topic could look like this:
Human nature is often unpredictable, leading people to sometimes engage with others in shocking ways. This unreliable side of the human experience is portrayed through the way others ignore Moishe the Beadle, the mindless cruelty of the soldiers in the camp, and the eventual way both the rabbi's son and Elie turn their backs on their fathers near the end of the book.
It's difficult to create a thesis statement without first choosing a topic. Once you choose a topic, thing about something about that topic that you'd like to prove. For example, Night has several examples in which the Jews are put in such terrible situations that they begin to act like animals, forgetting their own families in order to survive. Your thesis statement could be something like this:
When placed in extreme survival situations, Eli and other Jews in his situation behave in animalistic ways.
Another main idea throughout the text is the way in which Eli's faith is tested throughout the difficulties he endures. He finds it difficult to trust that God is a benevolent being, or even exists at all, in the face of such horror. You would trace this progression throughout the text, and your thesis statement for this essay could be:
Because of severe trial and adversity, Eli Wiesel questions his faith in God, despite being a faithful young man prior to his experiences.
Well, your thesis statement depends on the topic of your essay...
Topic: Insanity and Sanity
Eli Wiesel depiction of the hysterical Madame Schachter and Idek's enthusiasm for work demonstrates the greater insanity of the Holocaust.
Topic: God and Religion
Throughout the novel Night by Eli Wiesel, neither those who doubt or question God, as does Eliezer, nor those who never doubt, betray their faith.
Once you narrow down your topic from such a broad idea as the novel itself to maybe one theme within the novel, you will have an easier time pinpointing what it is you want to write your essay about.