The writing style that Eli Wiesel uses in Night reflects the nature of his experiences in the Nazi death camps during World War II.
In a narrative style—based on Wiesel's experiences as a captive of the Nazis—Night is told in the first-person point of view, so that the reader is only aware of what the narrator is aware: he is unable to read the minds of others, only sharing what he experiences and what others tell him.
The life of the prisoners in Auschwitz hung in a delicate balance when one never knew if today would be one's last day of life— remaining alive for one more day became a person's sole goal. Speaking was something that was done only when a soldier or barrack's leader required it. For example, when they first arrive at the camp, not knowing better, Eli's sick father asks to use a bathroom:
The gypsy looked him up and down slowly, from head to foot. As if he wanted to convince himself that this man addressing him was really a creature of flesh and bone, a living being with a body and belly. Then, as if he has suddenly woken up from a heavy doze, he dealt my father such a clout that he fell to the ground, crawling back to his place on all fours.
Speaking by the prisoners is done quickly, quietly and often secretly. Wiesel does not provide the reader with in-depth details of the surroundings or the people, which supports the sense that this tale is not about entertaining, but an attempt to report what happened—only with facts.
This element of the telling of Wiesel's experiences are described as follows. The details are presented in...
...techniques of the sparse and staccato...those techniques are used to keep the reader...in mind of how precious is the breath of air the death camp inmates survive on.
The author's use of words is limited: speech only when absolutely necessary. When words are not necessary, silence is used instead. This "sparse and staccato" use of words is seen in Wiesel's description of how the men are treated the next day:
We went to the wash place. We were given new clothes. We were brought black coffee.
Note that each sentence conveys only the specifics: no interpretation or explanation is included by Wiesel. This choppy writing lends itself to the reality that life and death are decided in a split second. There is no time to be philosophical or introspective.
Silence, too, can protect one's life. After seeing a guard making love with one of the women, Eli is beaten by Idek. Then he is warned to keep his mouth shut about what he saw. Eli can only nod: he has no words:
I nodded my head, once, ten times. I nodded ceaselessly, as if my head had decided to say yes without every stopping.
Wiesel also uses many...
...scriptural allusions, or hints of reference to biblical passages.
One allusion refers to the hanging of three prisoners. One is a young, innocent boy, who represents the person of Christ crucified between thieves. However, in this scenario, there is no miraculous resurrection. The hopes of the prisoners rest on the corpse of the dead, innocent boy—in other words, they are empty hopes.
A final element of Wiesel's style is reminiscent of the "bildungsroman," a German story where a young man looks for adventure, learns a lesson and is better prepared for life. Night is an "anti-bildungsroman." In no way do Eli's experiences make him...
...happy, wiser, and ready for a productive life.
Rather, Eli sees and lives in hell. In the end, he hopes for healing of himself and the world.