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What does the hanging of the "sad angel" child symbolize for Eliezer in Night?

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In section four of Night, Elie is really starting to lose his faith in God. He and the other prisoners are becoming so desensitized to the horrors around them that they overlook things. They hide their feelings and suppress whatever they might be feeling. The prisoners have become jaded to the terrible things that are happening. That all changes on the night the young boy is hanged.  

"Then came the march past the victims. The two men were no longer alive. Their tongues were hanging out, swollen and bluish. But the third rope was still moving: the child, too light, was still breathing...And so he remained for more than half an hour, lingering between life and death, writhing before our eyes. And we were forced to look at him at close range. He was still alive when I passed him. His tongue was still red, his eyes not yet extinguished. Behind me, I heard the same man asking, "Where is God now?" And I heard a voice within me answer him. "Where is He? Here He is. He is hanging here on this gallows."

The young boy's death is a symbol of the death of God for Elie. His faith has been shattered by this. He wonders how God could allow such horrible things to happen. Although the prisoners rarely show any emotion, when they see this young boy struggling to breath and know he is going to die they cry. It is such a heartbreaking scene and they all let their feelings come forth. Elie loses his faith in that moment, and who could blame him? 

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The young boy was a pipel, a Jewish boy who was chosen to be a servant for the kind supervisor of the area of the prison in which Elie and his father were housed. The prisoners "loved him like a brother" because he wasn't as cruel as so many of the other oberkapos, and they appreciated the youthful innocence and physical beauty of the pipel.

After the Oberkapo is removed from his position for involvement with the resistance, the pipel is tortured but gives no information to the SS. He is "condemned...to death, him and two other inmates who had been found to possess arms." However, the pipel is too small - his neck is not quickly broken by the noose, so that he "remained for more than half an hour, lingering between life and death, writhing before our eyes." Elie sees God "hanging here from this gallows" as he watches the pipel struggle. It is yet another movement toward the death of Elie's faith in God.

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In Chapter 4 of Night, when Eliezer and the other prisoners in the camp are forced to march by a hanging child who struggles for long time before he dies because he is so light, someone asks where God is. Eliezer thinks to himself, "Here He is—He is hanging here on this gallows" (page numbers vary by edition). The image of the child is symbolic of the sacrifice of Isaac in the Old Testament. Abraham, Isaac's father, was asked to sacrifice his son as a testament to his faith, but God stopped the sacrifice at the last minute. However, in the camps, the child is sacrificed, and Eliezer, who was once a very religious person, loses his faith in God. The child symbolizes his loss of faith in religion. Until this point, Eliezer had constantly asked God to save him, but after this moment, he decides that God no longer exists and ceases asking him for help or any kind of intervention.

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The hanging of the child represents the ultimate statement regarding the absence of God.  Even for those who are in the camp, have seen death with an almost regular occurrence, and have seen nearly every unspeakable atrocity, the hanging of the child represented a new low.  Wiesel says that the boy was well liked in the camp and to see him executed visibly shook the Jewish people in the camp.  The torture and hanging of the boy, who remained silent throughout, symbolized the death of innocence, the true statement of God's absence.  There was the constant cries of asking where God while observing the boy's death.  The symbolism of the young boy, essentially representing childhood, being summarily executed pleads the question as how a merciful or benevolent God would allow this to happen.  The haunting reality is that either God is absent, or God is "on the gallows."

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In Eliezer's eyes, the hanging of the child symbolizes a sad angel. Examine this image.

This moment from the narrative is one of the most intense.  For Eliezer, the hanging of a child represents a new level of cruelty, even for the Nazis.  Eliezer cannot seem to turn from this image.  The child, small and tiny, has a neck that does not fit the noose made for him.  As he hangs, he struggles between life and death for 30 minutes.  Eliezer states that as he walked past him like all the inmates were made to do, he could still see the child as alive.  It was in this point in which the image of the child symbolizes a sad angel.  The innocent face of the child, with the noose choking the life out of him, is where the image gains much in way of power.

On a thematic level, the child symbolizing the sad angel helps to affirm Eliezer's approach to God.  As the narrative progresses, Eliezer's relationship with God occupies vital importance.  From the time in which Eliezer was a devoutly spiritual human being to his time in the camps where what he saw made him question the presence and judgment of God, Eliezer's characterization features a trajectory in how God is seen.  As the child struggles for life, someone asks, "Where is God?"  Eliezer, looking at the child, responds that "God is here- hanging on this gallows."  In this moment, the sad angelic face of the child becomes a symbol for the dying of faith, the extermination of God.  In the very next chapter, Eliezer will become more pronounced on where he stands regarding the issue of God.  The symbol of the hanging child helps to illuminate this position.

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