What does Elie see with his own eyes in Night?

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readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Part of the sadness and power of the book Night is that Elie sees everything with his own eyes. What makes things even sadder is that he sees everything with very young eyes. Innocence is completely lost and what is seared in his mind instead is suffering and evil. So, what does Elie see? 

In the beginning, he sees the breaking apart of his family. His sister and mother are separated from him. He will never see them again. 

Mother was stroking my sister's blond hair, as if to protect her. And I walked on with my father, with the men. I didn't know that this was the moment in time and the place where I was leaving my mother and Tzipora forever. I kept walking, my father holding my hand.

Elie also saw an incredible amount of death, of all people, of all ages. In one moving seen he describes the death of Juliek. 

I shall never forget Juliek. How could I forget this concert given before an audience of the dead and dying? Even today, when I hear that particular piece by Beethoven, my eyes close and out of the darkness emerges the pale and melancholy face of my Polish comrade bidding farewell to an audience of dying men.

I don't know how long he played. I was overcome by sleep. When I awoke at daybreak, I saw Juliek facing me, hunched over, dead. Next to him lay his violin, trampled, an eerily poignant little corpse.

Elie also saw the evil in his own heart. At times life became too hard, and so he even thought of leaving his father. At one point, he was separated from his father, and he wished for a second not to find him. He thought that life would be easier without him. He writes:

Yet at the same time a thought crept into my mind: If only I didn't find him! If only I were relieved of this responsibility, I could use all my strength to fight for my own survival, to take care only of myself... Instantly, I felt ashamed, ashamed of myself forever.

In view of these example, we can say that Elie saw more than any boy should have seen. 

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