In Night, what does the response of the prisoners immediately after liberation reveal about them?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In many respects, Wiesel's depiction of life after liberation shows the lasting and lingering effects of the Holocaust.  The immediate response of the prisoners after liberation is not one that is raucous or joyous.  Rather, it is muted and awkward.  One can look at Eliezer's own reaction to this as evidence.  When he is liberated, we do not see the predicted reaction of immediate joy and satisfaction.  The wounds and pain of the Holocaust was so severely internalized that immediate, if any, joy is almost impossible to achieve.  Rather, the first thing Eliezer notes is his own appearance as a corpse.  He wonders what this reflection is and who this person is.  Such a response is what makes Wisel's work so powerful, as it examines human cruelty as an experience which forever changes the victim.  There can be no forgetting of such an experience, as its presence is as haunting and as inescapable as a shadow.  For the prisoners (It seems to strange to use that term in describing individuals who did nothing wrong except live a life that was not their choice to live), liberation is entry into a realm where the primary motivation is to attempt to piece together the figments and fragments of an existence that is as impossible to change or forget as the identification number branded on their arms.