What are examples of irony in the book Night by Elie Wiesel?  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When the foreign Jews, including Moishe the Beadle, were being deported, someone quipped that the situation was necessitated by war. The statement is ironic because despite being aware that the Jews were being targeted, those left in Sighet believed they were safe and took no measures to address the situation.

Behind me, someone said, sighing, "What do you expect? That's war"

The irony is evident when Mrs. Schachter keeps screaming that she sees a fire until she is brutally attacked by the other passengers. One of the passengers reports the incident to a German soldier and insists that the lady needs a hospital. The officer suggests that she will soon be taken there. The event is ironic because the German officer does not intend to offer any medical assistance since he is aware that death awaits most of the passengers.

"Patience," the German replied, "patience. She'll be taken there soon."

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There are good examples of verbal and situational irony in Elie Wiesel's memoir Night. Verbal irony occurs when words are used to suggest the opposite of what is meant. It is grimly ironic when, after the Jews are ordered to wear yellow stars, Elie's father says, "The yellow star? Oh well, what of it? You don't die of it..." The statement is ironic because that is precisely how Elie's father dies. The wearing of the yellow star was one step on the path to the concentration camps and almost certain death. After almost a year in the camps, Elie's father dies from dysentery at Buchenwald. 

Situational irony occurs when what actually happens is the opposite of what is expected or appropriate. In section five, as Russian troops come closer to the work camp at Buna where Elie and his father are imprisoned, the camp is ordered to be evacuated. Elie has just had foot surgery and is recovering in the hospital. He is told that he and his father can stay behind at the hospital while the rest of the prisoners are deported:

The choice was in our hands. For once we could decide our fate for ourselves. We could both stay in the hospital, where I could, thanks to my doctor, get him entered as a patient or a nurse. Or else we could follow the others.

Elie has heard from other prisoners that once the evacuation has taken place the camp would be blown up, so his choice is difficult. Ultimately he chooses to leave with the rest of the prisoners. Wiesel's decision was tragic. Ironically, only two days after they leave, the camp is liberated by the Russians. Instead of liberation, Elie and his father spend more months as prisoners, first on a forced march, and then at Buchenwald where Elie's father dies. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial