Why does Elie Wiesel title his memoir Night? Include text evidence.

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Night is used throughout the book as a metaphor for death. It's no coincidence that many of the most horrific events take place at night. The most personal of all for Eliezer is, of course, the death of his father one terrible night in January 1945. Then there's the repetition of the phrase "last night," which emphasizes death in general, not just the death of individuals:

Yet another last night. The last night at home, the last night in the ghetto, the last night in the train, the last night in Buna.

Night, night, night—all is night. Night becomes for Elie a kind of anti-dawn, always heralding a brand new chapter in his life, one considerably darker and yet more degrading. In the unremitting hell of the ghetto and of the camp, the distinction between night and day has been completely obliterated:

The days were like nights, and the nights left the dregs of their darkness in our souls.

Night is both internal and external; within the soul and without. Evil doesn't just manifest itself in individual acts, but as a corrupting, almost demonic force eating away at the souls of those attacked by its dark, unremitting power:

The night was long and never ending.

The inmates of the camp, so long as they are held prisoner there, will remain in the darkness. The absence of light means the absence of hope—and for Elie, the absence of God. Night is a permanent existential condition of those condemned to be destroyed in body and soul. The many individual acts of horror that take place at night in the story epitomize a general level of darkness and cruelty afflicting men's souls, manifesting itself in a time and a place from which the light of humanity has retreated.

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This is a great question. Elie Wiesel does not tell the reader plainly why he called his book, night. However, there is one passage that shows how powerful and painful his first night was behind barbed wires. According to him, he will never forget what happened that night. In view of this, he probably called his book, night. To put it another way, that night made all his life into one long night. He is what he says:

Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky. Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes. Never shall I forget those things, even were I condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.

If we parse these words, Wiesel is saying that that frist night represents suffering, death, crisis of faith, and sheer disgust. He has seen, experienced, and lived through all of these things. In other words, he saw night without day, where hope was destroyed. Hence, that night refers to his first night, but also figuratively the lack of light or faith in humanity and his God. 

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Chapter 3 of Ellie Wiesel's autobiography Night holds the most figurative allusions to the night as a symbol of darkness, as well as of a sad inevitable transition to a new light; the reality of life within the concentration camp, and the reality of the horrors of the Holocaust.

With the words

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.

Here we see that Wiesel sums up his existence into that one night when the world, as he knew it, had been removed from underneath his feet. His entire life was about to change forever once the night ends and the light of a new, horrid day, begins.

Once that first night ends, Wiesel explains how the darkness transformed him; what he witnesses that first night in camp has traumatized him, made him mature by force, and has disenfranchised the Jews as a race. What was going to happen next? All that Ellie had was his memories of the past and his feeble hope for the future.

The night was gone. The morning star was shining in the sky. I too had become a completely different person. The student of the Talmud, the child that I was, had been consumed in the flames. There remained only a shape that looked like me. A dark flame had entered into my soul and devoured it.

Therefore, Wiesel uses the title Night to remind the reader of that one night which marked him forever. Wiesel also uses the salient traits of the night to explain the darkness into which his people were about to enter; the darkness that symbolizes death, desolation, isolation, and the end of all light.

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Hi Dancebuglove,

Wiesel frequently talks about the night as a time of darkness and confusion -- much like the time he spent in the concentration camp.  The quote from which the title was taken appears in Chapter Three: "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."  The quote falls on page 67 in my version; as I said, it appears in Chapter Three.  Thus, "night" more metaphorically talks about the darkness and confusion that Wiesel felt while he was at the camps.

Hope this helps!

Teacher Holfie

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Wiesel writes, "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."

Having seen what he saw in the camps and experienced the horrors of the Holocaust, Wiesel felt as though he would never see the light again. Night symbolizes the darkness of his oppression, imprisonment and experiences during the Holocaust.

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The trilogy is amazing and Nightis only one small part of it. I think that the title came from Elie's experience in the concentration camps. Before he gets to the camps and after the Germans have invaded Sighet he feels that night is the only safe place for him because nothing happens at night. When he gets to Birkenau he learns that first night, that night no longer holds safety for him. He says that the first night in camp changed his entire life. That night he says his life "became one long night seven times sealed". He is talking about how a dark shroud fell over his life at that point and it never really lifted because he would never forget the things he faced that first night and every night after that for the next year. At fifteen years old he faced his own mortality- burn alive or throw himself onto an electrified barbed wire fence. He lost his mother and sisters without getting to say goodbye. He lost his faith, his childhood, his illusions.

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Psalm 30:5 says: "Weeping may endure for a night,/ But joy comes in the morning."

Wiesel doesn't really say why he titled his book Night. My edition has a Preface written by Francois Mauriac. Wiesel has recently published a new translation and has written a new Preface himself. He may make some mention in it of why he chose this title.

It could be that, for Wiesel and his family, the long nightmare of the Holocaust began at night. The eNotes introduction states: "The metaphorical night only gets darker as Eliezer struggles to survive in the brutality and degradation of the camps."

The original title was "And the World Remained Silent," but Night evokes the fear and sense of unreality--even surreality--of Wiesel's experiences. You might be interested in knowing that Night is book one of a trilogy, with Dawn and Day completing it.

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