In Night, why are the Jewish people of Sighet so complacent to the changes taking place around them?

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

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To a great extent, the Jewish people of Sighet are so complacent because they do not know what is in store for them.  There is a lack of understanding about what they are about to experience.  It is a challenge for modern readers to grasp this because the Holocaust is embedded into our minds.  The images of the crematorium, the gas chamber, and Nazi cruelty cannot escape our historical consciousness.  However, it is clear that prior to the world knowing about what happened and the camps being liberated, there was a lack of vocabulary regarding what was actually happening.  One of the reasons why Wiesel's work is so amazing is because it fully captures this reality.  People of Sighet had no idea of what was going to happen.  It is for this reason that they reject the words of Moshe the Beadle and Madame Schächter.  It is for this reason that Eliezer's father says it is not that detrimental to wear the Yellow Star.  

The changes that are happening around the Jewish people of Sighet are simply seen as the costs of war and part of what is going to happen until the Allied forces defeat the Nazis.  There is not a full grasp of their implications. It is Wiesel's genius to depict this as the state of affairs.  In doing so, he is able to carve out an understanding in the reader that any act of genocide or barbaric cruelty to another person or group of people should never go unnoticed.  The result is that Wiesel is able to merge philosophy and history. For this reason, it is highly significant that the Jewish people of Sighet are complacent about the horrific changes taking place around them.

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