What is an example of imagery in Night by Elie Wiesel?

In Night, Elie Wiesel uses imagery to describe the horrors of the Holocaust and allows the reader to comprehend the sights, sounds, feelings, and even smells that he senses. For example, Elie describes the harsh winter at the concentration camp using touch imagery when he writes, "Winter had arrived. The days became short and the nights almost unbearable. From the first hours of dawn, a glacial wind lashed us like a whip" (77).

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The narrator, Elie, uses imagery to present clear visual images of the horrors of Auschwitz upon his arrival there. When he first arrives, Elie believes that he still has some control over his life:

We were brought some soup, one bowl of thick soup for each of us. I was terribly hungry, yet I refused to touch it. I was still the spoiled child of long ago.

The imagery here reminds readers that the horrors of the Holocaust victimized very typical children. Here is a child who is disgusted with an offering of "thick soup" as a meal. All parents can empathize with the plight of picky eaters, and Elie is thus captured in his refusal as a young boy who could be anyone's child.

The process of receiving required tattoos is also a moment of powerful imagery:

In the afternoon, they made us line up. Three prisoners brought a table and some medical instruments. We were told to roll up our left sleeves and file past the table. The three "veteran" prisoners, needles in hand, tattooed numbers on our left arms. I became A-7713.

This action effectively erases Elie's identity, as well as the identities of the other camp victims. The process is done with a sense of sterile detachment, and there is no emotion associated with this process. In fact, other prisoners are recruited for the work as well.

After remaining at Auschwitz for a few weeks, Elie and some other prisoners are transferred to Buna. They walk there, and the imagery of life outside the camp is presented as a sharp contrast to Elie's own bleak existence inside camp life:

On the way, we saw some young German girls. The guards began to tease them. The girls giggled. They allowed themselves to be kissed and tickled, bursting with laughter. They all were laughing, joking, and passing love notes to one another.

In captivity, there are no kisses and no tickling. The lives of these German girls reflect freedom and contentment. From a distance, they are able to watch a parade of camp inmates file by, and the sight doesn't even surprise them. This speaks to the horrific sense of normalcy which the Germans have grown accustomed to. In every way, this scene should have elicited anger and outrage, yet the emotions of the German crowd are shockingly peaceful and even joyful.

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One of the most powerful examples of imagery in Night by Elie Wiesel is the brutal execution of a young boy by SS guards. The boy, a Dutch Oberkapo's pipel, is hanged for being involved in sabotage against the Germans. The execution is long, slow, and agonizing, causing immense suffering to the young boy.

As Eliezer and the other prisoners watch this demeaning spectacle, it's as if they're witnessing the sacrifice of a “sad-eyed angel.” The imagery is very powerful here, as the boy's appearance is one of youth and innocence. His angelic features make his execution all the more repugnant and vile. They also...

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serve to heighten the evil of the Nazis, for whom there are clearly no depths of depravity.

The angel imagery makes it seem as if God Himself is hanging there on the gallows. Indeed, a little voice inside Eliezer says precisely that. For many of those witnessing this grisly spectacle, including Eliezer, this moment marks the end of their faith in God. If such an innocent young child can be slowly hanged to death with such cruelty and wanton brutality, then it seems that there is no longer any point in believing in an almighty, all-powerful God. If God has died on the gallows, then there's no one left to worship or believe in.

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Imagery is a literary term for descriptive language that appeals to the reader's five senses. Elie Wiesel employs imagery when he describes the harsh winter in the concentration camp. Wiesel writes,

"Winter had arrived. The days became short and the nights almost unbearable. From the first hours of dawn, a glacial wind lashed us like a whip" (77).

He goes on to say,

"The stones were so cold that touching them, we felt that our hands would remain stuck. But we got used to that too" (Wiesel 78).

Elie's use of imagery appeals to the reader's sense of touch and feel. The reader can imagine the harsh gusts of freezing winds and the burning sensation of touching extremely cold stones in the middle of winter.

Elie Wiesel again uses imagery to give the audience an understanding of the environment in the camp during his last night at Buna. Wiesel writes,

"Through the frosty windowpanes we could see flashes of red. Cannon shots broke the silence of night...There was whispering from one bunk to the other..." (83).

The reader can visualize the red flashes from the bullets and hear the loud cannon shots outside of the building. Elie Wiesel is appealing to the reader's auditory and visual senses throughout the paragraph.

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Imagery is the use of the senses to enhance description in literature, and Elie Wiesel does this very well throughout his autobiographical book, Night. In describing the horrors of the Holocaust, he brings us in through the imagery he employs. We are able to see it, hear it, feel it and sometimes even to smell it. One of the best examples comes in Chapter Four during a bomb alert. Two large pots of soup were left unguarded, and one man's hunger could not withstand the temptation:

"A man appeared, crawling like a worm in the direction of the cauldrons. 

"Hundreds of eyes followed his movements. Hundreds of men crawled with him, scraping their knees with his on the gravel. Every heart trembled, but with envy above all. This man had dared.

"He reached the first cauldron. Hearts raced;  He had succeeded. Jealousy consumed us, burned us up like straw." (Wiesel 56-57)

Nearly all of our senses are employed here. We see the man "crawling like a worm." We feel knees being scraped. We hear and feel hearts racing and trembling. Wiesel is masterful in his use of imagery. If you look at any page in his book, you will be able to find it easily!  

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

There are many unsettling examples of foreshadowing in Elie Weisel’s autobiographical account of his experiences in the Nazi concentration camps. One example of foreshadowing appears before Eliezer, his family, and the other Jews with them arrive at the concentration camp. While still on the train, a woman screams, “Look at the fire! Look at the flames! Flames everywhere.” The fire should prepare the reader the fate that awaits Eliezer, his family, and European Jews in general.

The flames literally represent the burning of Jewish corpses. They also, in a figurative sense, point out that Jews will be in a constant state of peril from here on out. As long as they are in the Nazi camps, they will not be safe from the flames or the possibility of abuse and death.

Another example of foreshadowing to consider connects to the sign that the Nazis placed on the iron gate outside Auschwitz. The sign read ARBEIT MACHT FREI, or in English, work makes you free.

The deception of this sign prepares the reader for the subterfuge and trickery that Eliezer will have to face from the Nazis and the Jews. Of course, work did not make the Jews or any of the other concentration camp prisoners free. It was a delusion intentionally devised by the Nazis. Some Jews, meanwhile, will purposefully detach themselves from reality to survive or provide comfort. When Eliezer’s father speculates that Eliezer’s mom and sister are alive, Eliezer points out that this is what his dad wanted Eliezer to believe; it’s not the truth.

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

As a foreign Jew, Moishe the Beadle was deported by the Hungarian authorities from Sighet. Along with other Jews, he was taken to the Polish border, where the deportees were handed over to the Gestapo. There, the Jews were ordered off the train and told to dig their own graves in the forest. Once this was done, they were systematically murdered by the Nazis.

Miraculously, Moishe was able to escape and return to Sighet. Once he reaches town, he tells everyone who will listen about what happened to him. Unfortunately, no one is prepared to believe a word he says. The townsfolk regard Moishe as a lunatic and so feel able to ignore him. The Jews of Sighet are in denial and don't want to believe that what Moishe is saying is true because they cannot contemplate that something so horrifying could happen to them.

Sadly, that's exactly what does happen. Moishe's eyewitness account of the Nazi mass-murder of Jews foreshadows the horrors that will soon be inflicted on the Jews of Sighet. Before long, they will be rounded up and sent to Auschwitz, a concentration camp whose very name is synonymous with death, murder, and human suffering on a massive scale.

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

Foreshadowing is a literary device that hints or informs the reader about events that will occur in the future.

In Night, foreshadowing has been deliberately used throughout the book to accentuate key events that shape the story.

“I have a bad feeling,” said my mother. “This afternoon I saw new faces in the ghetto. Two German officers, I believe they were Gestapo.”

In this instance, Eliezer’s mother noticed something odd. She had not encountered any German Gestapo officers in the ghetto, and this event led her to presume that all was not well. Later that night terrible news arrived that the Jews would be transported out of Sighet. The turn of events definitely confirmed her fears.

“The yellow star? So what? It’s not lethal…” (Poor Father! Of what then did you die?)

This was another clear use of foreshadowing by the author. The yellow star was used to mark and single out the Jews. It was for this reason (being Jew) that they were subjected to the atrocities. Eliezer’s father’s reasoning that the yellow star was not lethal was far from the truth because it was the motive behind the symbol that led to his death, which occurred later in the camps. In effect, the yellow star was actually a mark of death.

“Jews, listen to me! That’s all I ask of you. No money. No pity. Just listen to me!”

Moishe the Beadle experienced firsthand the atrocities committed by the German Nazis. He witnessed terrible things, and when he escaped, he tried to warn the Jews of Sighet about the looming danger and what was to come if they did not heed his warning.

“Fire! I see a fire! I see a fire!”

This statement by Mrs. Schachter was to serve as a warning of what was about to happen. The rest of the Jews on the transports did not take her seriously, instead, they became violent towards her. Her premonition finally came to pass, when on arrival some of the prisoners who were deemed unsuitable were thrown in the crematoria.

“Jews, look! Look at the fire! Look at the flames!” And as the train stopped, this time we saw flames rising from a tall chimney into a black sky.

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

Author Elie Wiesel was a Holocaust survivor who wrote Night, a book about his experiences in the death camps during World War II. On the journey to the camp, he writes of his family:

My father was crying. It was the first time I saw him cry. I had never thought it possible. As for my mother, she was walking, her face a mask, without a word, deep in thought. I looked at my little sister, Tzipora, her blond hair neatly combed, her red coat over her arm: a little girl of seven. On her back a bag too heavy for her. She was clenching her teeth; she already knew it was useless to complain.

The only members of his family that he mentions here are his father, his mother, and Tzipora, all of whom perished in the camp. When they arrived, an SS officer commanded, "Men to the left! Women to the right!"

Wiesel writes,

Eight words spoken quietly, indifferently, without emotion. Eight simple, short words. Yet that was the moment when I left my mother.

He never sees his mother again, as she perishes in the camp along with his sweet baby sister. He says of himself and his father,

we were alone. In a fraction of a second I could see my mother, my sisters, move to the right. Tzipora was holding Mother's hand. I saw them walking farther and farther away…

As they get “farther and farther away,” they recede in reality. In other words, this scene foreshadows their actual death and the fact that Elie never sees them again. He then says, “I didn't know that this was the moment in time and the place where I was leaving my mother and Tzipora forever.”

Because they were separated as soon as they arrived, Elie did not know for sure that his mother and sister perished in the camps until the war ended. By the time he wrote Night, however, he knew. He says of Tzipora's murder,

incredibly, the vanishing of a beautiful, well-behaved little Jewish girl with golden hair and a sad smile, murdered with her mother the very night of their arrival?

In the beginning of the book, Wiesel writes that in response to the law stating that Jews must wear Jewish stars on their outer garments, his father said, "'The yellow star? So what? It's not lethal," to which Elie the writer responds, "(Poor Father! Of what then did you die?)” This latter sentence foreshadows his father’s eventual death in the camps.

In the camp, Elie and his friend Juliek watch a hanging. Juliek whispers, “Will it be over soon?" Again, this is foreshadowing Juliek’s own imminent death: When Elie, Juliek, and others are being crushed together and gasping for air, Elie hears a violin, in the “dark barrack where the dead were piled on top of the living.” It is Juliek, playing a fragment of a Beethoven concerto. Juliek soon dies.

Rabbi Eliahu's story also foreshadows Elie’s self-recriminations about his treatment of his own father, whom he loves dearly. Elie recalls that Rabbi Eliahu's son had seen his father fall behind and let “the distance between them become greater...He had felt his father growing weaker and...thought by this separation to free himself of a burden that could diminish his own chance for survival.”

Then Elie writes,

And in spite of myself, a prayer formed inside me, a prayer to this God in whom I no longer believed. "Oh God, Master of the Universe, give me the strength never to do what Rabbi Eliahu's son has done."

This is also foreshadowing of sorts because once his father dies, Elie has the same feeling of liberation. So, essentially, Elie does behave in a manner that is similar to Rabbi Eliahu’s son. He writes,

I did not weep, and it pained me that I could not weep. But I had no more tears. And, in the depths of my being, in the recesses of my weakened conscience, could I have searched it, I might perhaps have found something like: Free at last!

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

There are several examples of foreshadowing in Night.

In Chapter 1 of Night, Moishe the Beadle tells Elie that one day all Jews who were foreign-born were expelled from the ghetto in Sighet, and Moishe was a one of them. They were sent to a concentration camp in a Polish city called Oswiecim, annexed by the Nazi regime. Moishe tells Elie that the people were made to stand before a trench, then they were shot. They fell, dying, into the trenches. Fortunately, Moishe escaped because he was only wounded in his leg. Now, he goes from house to house, warning people. But they do not heed his warnings. They believe that the Red Army (Russia) is advancing on Germany; the news from London radio sounds encouraging as there are daily bombings of Germany and Stalingrad. Furthermore, no one believes that all the Jews can be harmed.

Annihilate an entire people? Wipe out a population dispersed throughout so many nations? So many millions of people! By what means? In the middle of the twentieth century! (Ch.1)

Because it is still possible to purchase emigration certificates to Palestine, Elie begs his father to sell his business so they can leave and live in Palestine. But his father will not consider departing from his home. He tells Elie that he is too old to start over. In the months that follow, German troops move into Budapest. A friend of Elie's returns from having spent Passover in Budapest, and he tells Elie,

"Anti-Semitic acts take place every day, in the streets, on the trains. The Fascists attack Jewish stores, synagogues. The situation is becoming very serious." (Ch.1)

Still, the residents of Elie's city do not believe that the Germans will reach them. Three days later, however, German troops drive into town. Elie's family's maid named Maria begs them to come to her hometown where she has a shelter for them. Mr. Wiesel refuses and tells Elie and his older sisters that they can go, but no one wants to break up the family.

Unfortunately, the unsuspecting Wiesels are among those loaded into cattle cars one day. As the Jews are transported out of the city, a woman known as Mrs. Schächter is extremely distraught, and she cries out, "Fire! I see a fire! I see a fire!" Although she claims that she can see "a terrible fire," when people peer through the narrow openings, they see nothing. She cries out some more times as they travel and others beat her. After they arrive at Auschwitz, Mrs. Schächter begins to cry out again about the fire. This time, the others see evidence of fire.

We stared at the flames in the darkness. A wretched stench floated in the air. (Ch.2)

At this point, the unsuspecting captives in the train do not understand what the flames and stench signify or what these elements foretell. Mrs. Schächter's visions foreshadow existence of the terrible crematorium.

One day Elie is comforted by a young woman after he has been severely beaten. Her words act as foreshadowing:

"Bite your lips, little brother . . . Don't cry. Keep your anger, your hate, for another day, for later. The day will come, but not now . . . Wait. Clench your teeth and wait." (Ch.4)

Elie does survive, and he does tell his story on "another day."

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What are some examples of imagery in Night by Elie Wiesel?

Weisel's memoir of the horrors of Nazi occupation and confinement in concentration camps is full of imagery. They are powerful, haunting, shocking images of what it was like for Weisel and other Jewish people at the time.

One of the most striking images is that of fire. In the train car, Madame Schachter becomes delirious and raves about a huge fire that will consume them all. It won't be long until Weisel learns that her delusion was actually prophetic, that fire awaits those who are not chosen to work.

Another image that haunts Weisel is that of the young boy who is hanged for refusing to give information about weapons that had been discovered hidden by one of the camp inmates. The boy and the man who had hidden the weapons were hanged, but the boy was so small that it took him a long time to die. Weisel had described the boy as having the face of an angel. After the hanging, there was nothing angelic about him.

A third image is that of the violin. One of the inmates has managed to keep his treasured violin with him, and on the night that they are made to run barefoot through the snow to another camp, many men die of starvation and exposure. Weisel hears music and wonders who could possibly play while corpses are piled all around them. It is the man who had saved his precious violin, and in the morning he too is dead.

Death, hunger, piles of clothing, ashes--all are images in this book.

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What are some examples of imagery in Night by Elie Wiesel?

One of the reasons Night is so searing is its use of imagery. Weisel uses images to make the horrors of the Holocaust vivid in the minds of readers who never experienced it. Consider one of the novel's most famous passages:

Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. 

As a reader safely in my home in 2017, I have no experience of the Holocaust. However, I know very well what children's faces look like, what a wreath looks like, and I have seen smoke. I have known many a "silent blue sky." Because I, as a reader, can create the building blocks of this image in my mind, I am able to envision the three together and feel something of Weisel's dismay. 

This is but one specific example. Weisel utilizes the same technique, the use of small, quotidian, concrete details to render the unimaginable real, throughout his memoir.

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