Discussion Topic

Examples of hopelessness, death, hope, and life in chapters 6-9 of Night

Summary:

In chapters 6-9 of Night, hopelessness is depicted through the grueling death march and the brutal winter conditions. Death is omnipresent, seen in the countless dead and dying prisoners. However, hope flickers in Eliezer's determination to survive and his father's presence. Life is symbolized by the rare moments of human kindness and the liberation of Buchenwald camp.

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In chapters 6-9 of Night, what events demonstrate hopelessness and death, and which show hope and life?

The SS soldiers represent death and hopelessness themselves, so you could consider the way they influence the inmates as you answer this question. For example, consider the march at the beginning of chapter 6. Wiesel notes,

Pitch darkness. Every now and then, an explosion in the night. They had orders to fire on any who could not keep up. Their fingers on the triggers, they did not deprive themselves of this pleasure. If one of us stopped for a second, a sharp shot finished off another filthy son of a bitch.

Violence in the night, the time itself a symbolic representation of darkness and hopelessness, is one example of evil in Wiesel's world. The prisoners were required to run to live, thereby also eliminating the weakest and oldest inmates on this march. In his struggle, Wiesel feels that his body is "skeletal," and he longs to part with it because it weighs so much. This image of a skeleton reinforces the death imagery of this scene. Throughout these chapters, look for other examples of how the SS officers treat the prisoners with cruelty and deathly violence.

Elie Wiesel himself perseveres with ongoing diligence to survive from one moment to the next, and there are glimpses of hope woven into the overwhelming themes of violence. For example, when Rabbi Eliahou comes looking for his son, Wiesel realizes that the rabbi's son wanted to be rid of his father because he realized the older man was growing too weak. At this moment, Wiesel prays for strength to never desert his own father. There is hope in the bond they share. Near the end of chapter 6, Wiesel's father is selected for the "weaker" group, a certain death sentence. Wiesel creates a diversion that allows his father to escape back to the "stronger" group, evading death once again. As you look for other images of hope, look at the ways humans help each other in these chapters, in even small ways. In this environment, even a small means of assistance could mean surviving for one more day—and each day of survival put prisoners one day closer to liberation and eventual freedom.

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In chapters 6-9 of Night, what events demonstrate hopelessness and death, and which show hope and life?

The warnings and foreshadowing before the Jews of Sighet reach Auschwitz demonstrates the hopelessness and death that they will encounter. After witnessing the cold blood murder of Jews including young children, Moshe the Beadle manages to get back to Sighet and narrates his ordeal. However, the people do not take him seriously. The situation is hopeless, and Moshe has a hint of what is about to happen.

Madame Schachter’s hysterical screams as the Jews are being transported to the concentration camp foreshadows the coming events. At Auschwitz, the Jews come face to face with the horrors of the camps, and they are made to witness the burning of babies in the crematories. Fear and death stop them from reacting to the atrocities.

Although most of the events demonstrate the hopeless nature of their situation, there are situations that also demonstrate hope and life. The bombing of Buna rejuvenates the prisoners’ confidence in life. The Jews are happy that progress is being made against the German forces.

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In chapters 6-9 of Night, what events demonstrate hopelessness and death, and which show hope and life?

Well, with a story like this one there are plenty of examples of hopelessness, and I am certainly not going to give you an example of all six for both, as I really think you should be reading this excellent, life-changing narrative for yourself. I will, however, point you towards one event that encapsulates both the hope but also the despair of these last few chapters. This is the violin of Juliek.

Let us remember that Elie and the other prisoners are on the withdrawal with their German captors. They are all in a barrack and there are so many prisoners that they are struggling to sleep, as literally there was danger of suffocation and crushing from so many bodies. In the midst of this chaos and suffering and sadness, like a note of hope, Juliek begins playing his violin, in what turns out to be his last concert.

He was playing a fragment of a Beethoven concerto. Never before had I heard such a beautiful sound. In such silence....

...The darkness enveloped us. All I could hear was the violin, and it was as if Juliek's soul had become his bow. He was playing his life. His whole being was gliding over the strings. His unfulfilled hopes. His charred past, his extinguished future. He played that which he would never play again.

Juliek's impromptu concert therefore sums up the capacity of man to survive and thrive in the most hideous of situations and to find beauty in the most ugly of surroundings. In spite of all that has happened to him, Juliek has not had his ability to create beauty extinguished. This is something that gives hope, and as the author says, it was an unforgettable performance:

How could I forget this concert given before an audience of the dead and the dying?

Of course, this great symbol of hope is short lived, as the next day Elie sees Juliek "hunched over, dead" with his trampled violin next to him, which is described as "an eerily poignant little corpse." It is clear that Juliek literally played his life out, and the "death" of the violin represents the death of his talent and his potential. A bleak moment following the uplifting music of the night before.

Hope this example helps you find other such contrasts. And do read the book - it is life-changing.

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What are five examples each of hopelessness, death, hope, and life in chapters 6-9 of Night?

As with much of Night, it is not hard to find examples of hopelessness and death.

In chapter 6, the prisoners are forced to run through the snow by their Nazi captors. A Polish prisoner named Zalman who Elie has spoken with in the past suddenly gets severe stomach cramps and can run no longer. He collapses, then dies while being trampled by the other prisoners. Elie admits that even though he was encouraging Zalman to continue moments ago, he quickly stopped thinking about him and focused once again on himself.

Another grim facet of this march is how many sons abandon their fathers. Elie points out that no one says Kaddish over these corpses and that everyone seems to be letting go of familial loyalty in their quest for self-preservation.

At the beginning of chapter 7, Elie notes that the prisoners are beginning to lose hope of rescue from the Allied forces. He claims their minds are "numb with indifference" and that they are slowly starting to resign themselves to either freezing to death, starving, or collapsing from exhaustion or bullet wounds.

In chapter 8, Elie is faithful to his father and gives the ailing man his own food; however, he does it grudgingly. He despairs that he feels this resentment against his father, the man he is staying alive for.

His father is also mistreated by the other prisoners, who no longer have enough pity for anyone. His illness, moans, and inability to take himself outside to relieve himself cause the other prisoners to mock both Elie and his father. Elie's father eventually dies and when it happens, Elie feels more relieved than grieved, a fact which makes him experience immense guilt.

However, there are moments of hope to be found in these chapters as well. Sometimes, they even blend with the hopeless moments.

During the forced march in chapter 6, Elie says he keeps himself going so he can be there for his father. He claims he has no right to die so long as his aging father needs him by his side.

Elie also encounters Rabbi Eliahu during this march. The rabbi is searching for his son, but Elie saw the rabbi's son abandoning his father as the older man lagged behind. This sad event inspires a prayer in Elie: he asks God to give him the inner strength to stay beside his father and never abandon him no matter what happens.

The character of the rabbi himself is also hopeful. Elie says Eliahu inspires respect due to his gracious and kind spirit. He retains these qualities even in the dire circumstances of prison camp existence.

Also in chapter 6, Juliek continues to play Beethoven on his violin late into the night, even though by morning he is dead and his violin is destroyed. His choice to keep the violin with him shows a sense of perseverance in spite of the way the Nazis dehumanize him.

And even though Elie despairs at how much he resents his dying father in the older man's final days, his conduct is still mostly admirable. He gives the old man food and gets him coffee. He stays by him regardless of the temptation to let him die alone.

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What are five examples each of hopelessness, death, hope, and life in chapters 6-9 of Night?

Not surprisingly, there are several examples of hopelessness and death in the final four sections of Elie Wiesel's memoir Night. The sections focus on the deportation from Buna, Elie's father's death and the liberation of Buchenwald.

The forced march from Buna to Gleiwitz provides several examples of death and despair. The SS promptly shoot any man who cannot not keep up with the furious pace as the prisoners are stampeded in frozen conditions. When Zalman stops to relieve himself he is trampled. Elie, whose foot had recently undergone surgery, can barely hang on and begins to lose hope:

Death wrapped itself around me till I was stifled. It stuck to me. I felt that I could touch it. The idea of dying, of no longer being, began to fascinate me. Not to feel the horrible pains in my foot. Not to feel anything. To break the ranks, to let oneself slide to edge of the road...

Fortunately, Elie avoids sinking into hopelessness as he remembers his father and that he must stay alive in order to look after him. Running blindly, pushed along by the mob of men behind them, Elie and his father survive and reach Gleiwitz.

After Gleiwitz the Jews are transported by train to Buchenwald. They are given no rations, no bread, soup or even water. Once in awhile they stop the train to throw out the dead men. Sometimes they stop near towns where the German townspeople throw pieces of bread into the wagons so they can witness the men scramble and fight each other, often to the death, just for a morsel of food. A son descends upon his father and kills him in order to get the bread he has hidden in his shirt.

Examples of hope and life are much harder to come by in these sections. One example is the poignant story of Juliek, who has somehow saved his violin in the crush of men as they finally reach the barracks at Gleiwitz. Elie reports that he hears Juliek playing a fragment of a Beethoven concerto that night:

I shall never forget Juliek. How could I forget that concert, given to an audience of dead and dying men! To this day, whenever I hear Beethoven played my eyes close and out of the dark rises the sad, pale face of my Polish friend, as he said farewell on his violin to an audience of dying men.

Another example comes from an unexpected source, the SS. On the march, as men slip into apathy and begin to give up, the SS motorcycle officers ride by and shout encouragement to the men that they are almost at their destination and not to surrender. Elie writes,

These words of encouragement, even though they came from the mouths of our assassins, did us a great deal of good.

During the deportations, Elie does his best to aid his father. When they are leaving Gleiwitz and his father is selected for death, Elie pursues him and in the confusion is able to save not only his father but several other men as they are pushed back to the right. During this selection, right meant survival and left meant liquidation. When Elie's father comes down with dysentery, the son does his best to comfort the father. At one point he brings him a cup of coffee:

With those few gulps of hot water, I probably brought him more satisfaction than I had done during my whole childhood.

Unfortunately, Elie is not able to do enough as his father dies that night. It is a relief for Elie. He writes that he was "free at last" from the constant worry about his father's fate.

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