What is the first horrifying sight that Elie sees and disbelieves in Night?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In exploring this question, I thought that Wiesel's description of Elie's travelling to the camp might constitute as a horror that warrants a sense of disbelief.  The cramped conditions, as well as the open sense of flirting in the midst of this horrendous moment, and the notion of the destination might qualify as potential areas where disbelief could enter.  In analyzing how Eliezer details this voyage, one can see that there are moments where doubt, pain, and fear all converge within the narrative. These elements could be seen as the first moments where the nature of the Holocaust could have revealed themselves to Elie.  In reading the descriptions, there seems to be an undercurrent of disbelief within the narrative structure.  This might be due to the fact that Eliezer himself is unaware of what is going to happen, yet his mind begins to enter the domain of understanding that there will be little in way of both positive ending and escape from such a condition.

scarletpimpernel's profile pic

scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Shortly after Elie arrives at the "reception center" of Auschwitz (Birkenau), he witnesses infants being thrown into the ovens (crematorium).  At this point, Elie loses his faith--he questions how a God could exist who would allow such horror to occur without intervening.  Right after Elie describes the incident, he lapses into a poignant and beautifully written passage which reads as poetry.  He says, "Never shall I forget that night . . ." and continues with the opening phrase "Never shall I" to demonstrate how profoundly he has been affected by the Nazis' inexpressible cruelty.

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