What circumstances in the memoir allow for the darker side of human nature to emerge?

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One way that the darkness in human nature is able to emerge in Night is that the sheer brutality of the crimes means that people don't believe they're happening. When Moishe escaped the Germans and returned to Sighet, the people living there didn't believe that he was almost killed. He...

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One way that the darkness in human nature is able to emerge in Night is that the sheer brutality of the crimes means that people don't believe they're happening. When Moishe escaped the Germans and returned to Sighet, the people living there didn't believe that he was almost killed. He explains to them that he escaped them and returned to tell his tale and warn them —but they don't make any changes. They simply can't believe that such an outlandish story is truly happening or that it might happen to them. He tells Wiesel that he doesn't care if he lives and that he is alone—he wants them to hear and believe him.

Keeping the crimes of that Nazis secret was another way that the dark side of human nature was left to thrive. If people had all known what was happening at once, they might have been better able to organize and fight against it. When there are secrecy and disbelief, however, it's more difficult to mount a resistance.

Another was that darkness was allowed to thrive was by creating segregation between people. By positioning the Jewish people as different and detrimental to others, the Nazis were able to commit crimes against them with their created justifications. They moved them into ghettos and marked them with yellow stars to show how different and not like "other" people the Jewish people were.

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One of the themes that emerges showing the darker side of human nature is the desire to preserve oneself while others suffer and perish. Consider the plight of Moishe the Beadle, a deeply spiritual man who is forced into exile along with many other foreign Jews in Sighet. At first, the reaction in the town is of grief. They watch their former neighbors being loaded into cattle trains by Hungarian police and "[weep] bitterly." And soon, the deportees are completely forgotten. The people of Sighet create stories that their former neighbors and friends are living a satisfied life in their new "home," and this allows them to go on with their own lives without the burden of sadness or guilt. The winds of "reassurance blew through [their] houses" as they continue with their own plans and fairly normal lives.

When Moishe returns with stories of babies being thrown into the air and used as targets and of the deportees being forced to dig their own graves before presenting their necks for execution, the citizens of Sighet don't believe him. This directly contradicts the alternate and more pleasant reality that they have created in order to move on with their own lives, free of guilt or regret. They label Moishe a madman, and he begs them to listen in order to save themselves. But to listen to Moishe would be to admit that they might face this same horrible outcome.

Therefore, the people force Moishe to live as an outcast because of the truth he presents to them. In order to (temporarily) continue with a sense of normalcy, they cannot listen to the claims Moishe makes, which have a high likelihood of truth, based on all evidence that the people of Sighet are presented with.

This is one example of the need of people to preserve themselves in the midst of others suffering, but others will follow. Although there are moments of goodness where we also see the self-sacrifice of others (such as the French girl who gives Elie bread in the camp), the overwhelming evidence of human nature focuses on a need to preserve oneself, often at the expense of others.

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Virtually every scene in Eliezer's memoir describes the darker side of humanity as Elie vividly describes his horrific experience during the Holocaust. One of the darkest scenes of the novel is when Elie and the Jewish prisoners witness the young, innocent-looking pipel hang from the gallows after the Dutch Oberkapo was found with a stash of weapons. Elie mentions that the young pipel was too light and remained alive for a half an hour as he hanged from the gallows. The scene of the young pipel hanging is extremely tragic and portrays the darker side of humanity. Elie even says that several prisoners began questioning God as they watched the young boy hang. Another scene that depicts the darker side of humanity is when Elie realizes that Rabbi Eliahu's son purposely ran faster during their evacuation in order to leave his father behind. Elie also witnesses a son brutally beat his father over a piece of bread.

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I think that one of the circumstances in the memoir that allows for the darker side of human nature to emerge is how the bonds between individuals are shown to dissipate in the name of survival.  This is seen throughout the narrative, where children, such as Madame Schachter's child, do nothing when their parents are being abused so as to make their lives easier.  When the boy on the train steals bread from his father so he can eat, only to see his father beaten to death, it is an example of how the darker side of human nature emerges in the memoir.  This is also seen in Eliezer's narrative, as he backs away from helping his father so as to ensure his own survival.  Eliezer's father continues to call out to him at the very end, but Eliezer remains silent, hoping his father will become silent, even if it means his death.  The memoir does not seek to glorify Eliezer, as it presents a realistic and brutal approach to how the Holocaust's horror was to sever the bonds that exist between individuals.  In doing so, it reveals a darker side of human nature.

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