Dehumanization In Night

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One of Wiesel's strengths in Night is to show the full face of dehumanization. It is something that the Nazis perpetrated against the people they imprisoned. The tattooing of numbers on the prisoners, something that Eleizer notes, is of extreme importance.  A- 7713 is by definition an example of dehumanization because it robs the humanity of the individual.  The abuses that the Nazis perpetrate on their prisoners is another example of dehumanization. The public beatings, the hanging of prisoners and making others walk past them, as well as the selection process are all examples of dehumanization. When Eliezer has to run at full speed to avoid being noticed during one of the selection processes, it is a reminder as to how large a role dehumanization played in the Holocaust.  Even in actions that the Nazis took towards Jewish people prior to extermination, dehumanization is evident.  The forced wearing of the Yellow Star and the movement into the ghettos are all examples of dehumanization that the Nazis perpetrated.

I would also suggest that Wiesel shows the true horror of dehumanization to impact the relationships between Jewish people.  Wiesel makes the claim that the terror of the Holocaust existed in how everyone dehumanized one another. Moshe the Beadle is dehumanized by the people of Sighet. When he comes back to tell them what he experienced, he is dehumanized in the way he is discredited and shunned.  Moshe the Beadle represents dehumanization in the treatment he receives.  This process continues in the train when the men on the train beat up Madame Schächter.  When she exclaims that she sees fire, she is not validated or heard.  Rather, she is told to "shut up" and then forcibly beaten into silence.  Once again, dehumanization is evident in how victims of evil treat one another.  Throughout the camps, examples of children abandoning parents, people betraying one another, and internal aloneness dominating human actions until survival is all that remains are examples of dehumanization in the narrative.  These examples show that the Holocaust happened because individuals dehumanized one another.  In seeing human beings as less than human beings, individuals were able to treat one another with a lack of dignity and voice.  Wiesel's work reminds us that anytime voice is silenced, dehumanization is the result.  This becomes its own end that must be stopped at all costs.

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lindzc's profile pic

lindzc | (Level 1) eNoter

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Dehumanization is shown when the Jewish people are threatened on the train and told if one of them runs the rest will "be shot like the dogs you are". Another is the concept that most traumatic events occur on or during major religious holidays.  This not only dehumanizes but lends an ideal of insignificance the beliefs of the entire culture.  When Elie is tattooed with his identification number would be another example of dehumanization.  The son beating his father to death on the train also shows the dehumanization in action.  Everyone is at risk, starvation and instinctual survival have predominated even familial relations. 

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