What are examples of heroism in Night by Elie Wiesel?  

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mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are a few good examples of heroism in Elie Wiesel's Night. When Elie and his father are facing the selection at Birkenau in section three, an unknown man takes them aside and asks their ages. He advises them not to divulge their actual ages. Rather, he tells Elie, who was only fourteen at the time, to tell the SS that he was really eighteen and for his father to change his age from fifty to forty. This heroic act might have cost the man his life had the Nazis found out what he was doing. Ultimately, his help may have saved Elie and his father from possible extermination. In section four, while at the work camp of Buna, Elie and his father are housed in a block overseen by a German Jew who was dedicated to the prisoners he supervised:

He was called Alphonse. A young man with an extraordinarily aged face, he was entirely devoted to the cause of "his" block. Whenever he could, he would organize a cauldron of soup for the young ones, the weak, all those who were dreaming more about an extra plateful than liberty.

Unlike many of the other prisoner "kapos," Alphonse is heroic in his simple humanity. Likewise, the doctor who operates on Elie's leg in section five is heroically kind and reassuring toward Elie:

"My" doctor was there. I took comfort from this. I felt that nothing serious could happen while he was there. There was a balm in every word he spoke, and every glance he gave me held a message of hope.

Not surprisingly, Elie refers to the man as "a great Jewish doctor." 

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

1. In chapter 3, an inmate approaches Elie and his father before the selection process and asks them their ages. Elie and his father give the prisoner direct answers by telling the inmate they are fifteen and fifty years old. The inmate instantly corrects them by telling Elie to say he is eighteen and his father to tell the Nazi officers he is forty. This small act of heroism by a random inmate benefits Elie and his father and possibly saves their lives.

2. Later on in the chapter, the prisoners are forced to strip naked in front of the officers in their new barracks. Elie mentions that Béla Katz was able to sneak them a note telling them to not appear physically strong in order to avoid arduous work. Elie and his father take Béla Katz's advice and end up avoiding physically tasking work. Béla Katz's selfless note is considered a small act of heroism.

3. In chapter 6, the prisoners are forced to evacuate in the middle of the night and jog through the snow. Elie mentions that he no longer has any physical strength left and feels like falling asleep in the snow. Fortunately, Elie's father prevents his son from falling asleep in the snow and saves his life. Elie's father's selfless act is considered an act of heroism.

4. In the next chapter, Elie demonstrates an act of heroism by saving his father on the train ride. The fellow prisoners mistake Elie's father as a corpse and Elie prevents them from throwing his father off the train to his death.