What does Night by Elie Wiesel teach us about cultural values and our role in society? 

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brodertj eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Elie Wiesel’s Night teaches us that even in the most desperate of times, cultural values and people’s roles in society can endure.

Many groups experienced genocide at the hands of the Nazis, but the Jewish people were the largest group of victims. In Night the reader experiences the Holocaust from the Jewish perspective. What is astonishing is that a large number of Jews featured throughout the memoir not only keep their faith, but practice it in the concentration camps. For example, the Jewish prisoners in Auschwitz perform the religious ceremonies surrounding Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Though Elie has lost his faith, it is still astounding to read that “Some ten thousand men participate in the solemn service” despite the horrors around them.

Elie’s relationship with his father is a key example of how people’s roles in society endure despite extreme circumstances. Throughout the memoir Elie is loyal to his father despite the older man’s deteriorating health. Though in his darker moments Elie wishes his father would die, giving Elie a greater chance of survival, he cannot forsake the older man. In fact, on many occasions Elie sneaks food and water to his father despite knowing that his father will not survive until liberation.