What would be some points from Elie Wiesel's Night to prove the lesson that silence can be dangerous?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The concept of silence is a very important one in Night. Wiesel uses his narrative to display the dangers of silence.

Wiesel sees silence as dangerous because it allows abuse to happen. In Night, when people are silent, abuse is perpetrated.  There is a danger in being silent when we know injustice is taking place.

One instance where the dangers of silence can be seen is with Moshe the Beadle.  The Nazis deport Moshe, and he bears witness to their extraordinary cruelty.  However, he ends up surviving the ordeal.  Convinced that God spared his life so that he could tell the other people in Sighet about what he experiences, Moshe returns and tells the town what the Nazis are going to do to them if they remain in Sighet. However, Moshe is met with scorn, ridicule, and silence. People do not pay attention to him. They silence his narrative through rejection and apathy. The sad truth is that Moshe was right and people did not listen to him.  Wiesel uses the story of Moshe the Beadle to demonstrate the dangers of silencing voices.

Another instance where silence is shown to be dangerous is with Madame Schächter.  In the train to Auschwitz, Madame Schächter begins to scream out that she sees "fire."  She is met with silence.  When she begins to shout again, people on the train beat her up in order to get her to be quiet. Madame Schächter's voice is silenced, and even her son simply watches as the others beat up his mother.  Madame Schächter demonstrates the dangers of silence. When people are not heard or are silenced from telling their stories, Wiesel believes that bad things usually follow.  This becomes poignantly true when Eliezer's father reminds his son that what Madame Schächter said was actually true.  The fires of crematorium greeted all who entered Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The Nazis show the dangers of silencing voices.  They silenced millions of people's voices during the Holocaust. In this instance, look no further than Eliezer, who saw his family separated in the lines at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When the Nazi official says, "Men to the left!  Women to the right," it silences the voices of Eliezer's mother and sister. He never got the chance to say farewell, and could only watch as a part of his life was annihilated. 

I think that there is one more sad lesson about the dangers of silence in Night.  It takes place at the narrative's end.  Eliezer must watch his father die a slow and agonizing death. The doctors refuse to help and Eliezer is condemned to watch his father die.  In his last night, Eliezer's father is writhing and moaning in pain.  He is beaten by a Nazi officer, and Eliezer is scared that such a fate would be in store for him, as well.  After the beating, Eliezer's father continues to call out his son's name.  Eliezer hears the cries and he does not respond.  

The next morning, Eliezer wakes up to find his father gone.  Another prisoner has replaced him.  Eliezer reasons that "they must have taken him away at daybreak."  It is at this point that Eliezer's words about his father's death reflect one final lesson about the dangers of silence:  "No prayers were said over his tomb. No candle lit in his memory. His last word had been my name. He had called out to me and I had not answered."  No one could possibly blame Eliezer for being silent.  However, that does not remove the guilt he feels for being silent when his father called out to him.  Eliezer lives with the reality that he remained silent when someone yearned for him.  This demonstrates the ultimate danger of silence.  Silence is a form of negating the bonds that exist between human beings.  Whether it is seen in the Holocaust on a large scale or in the sad interactions between a dying father and his son, the lesson is clear that when we are silent, we fail to acknowledge the connections between human beings. Even as Eliezer is liberated from the camps, he carries this lesson with him for the rest of his days.

djmrsoul | Student

Well answered. Thank you. 

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