Dehumanization In Night
Where are examples of dehumanization in Night?
The Holocaust itself was an exercise in mass dehumanization and extermination of millions of people. Wiesel shows this in Night when he describes the police invasion of Sighet. They raid the Jews' homes, set strict curfews, and force all Jews to wear yellow stars. Later, the Jews continue to be dehumanized when they are shuttled to ghettos and eventually concentration camps. Wiesel also describes public beatings and hangings that contributed to a pervading sense of inhumanity.
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...
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Dehumanization is an act or process that strips away the dignity and individuality of people. In Elie Wiesel's Night, this process begins in the first chapter, as the Hungarian police invade the homes of the Jews, seizing their valuables, establishing curfews and forcing them to wear yellow stars. They then herd them into the ghetto they have constructed for them, and later into cattle cars to be transported to the camps. This process breaks down people's identities because, at each stage, they make the decision that they can bear it. That it can't get worse. And then it does, as little by little, the Jews are being forced to let go of so much of their identities. When they arrive at the camps, they are stripped of their names and tattooed with the number they will become known by. In the camps they are beaten, starved, and forced to work. They are reduced to trying to avoid selection for the gas chambers, even as their friends and neighbors are taken to their deaths. They are forced to defecate in their beds for fear of being shot for moving around at night. They watch other prisoners being hung or shot. When the SS is forced by the approaching Red Army to abandon the camp, they force the Jews on a march, in the dead of winter, half-starved and barely clothed. The SS call them "filthy dogs" and yell at them to run faster, shooting anyone who stops. A son leaves his father behind to save himself, as children and old people are trampled to death. Wiesel reminds us that these individuals were all once loving families and good neighbors, who have been dehumanized and reduced to the basic instincts of survival. These were people just like us; we could be them.