About the Author Elie Wiesel • In 1940, Romania became part of Hungary, an area that was soon invaded by the Nazis. • Elie had two older sisters and one younger sister. • His family was Jewish, and Elie studied Hebrew and the Hassidic sect of Judaism. About the Author Elie Wiesel • Elie survived and was liberated on April 11, 1945. • After the war, he learned that his two older sisters had survived. • Elie spent the next ten years living and studying in France, refusing to write anything about his experiences in the concentration camp. Elie Wiesel’s strong connection with the Jewish Community Elie Wiesel’s Novel, Night – His father was involved with the community – Wiesel studied the Torah (1st five books in the Old Testament) – Wiesel studied the Talmud (oral law) and the Cabbala – Wiesel’s book was published in 3 different languages and as part of a trilogy with Dawn and Day; containing more detail of his experience Genre of Night • While the book Night is about Wiesel’s life, it is not necessarily considered an autobiography • He changes facts to make his characters different, making this a fictional story. • Because of this, his story is considered more of a memoir than an actual novel. • Wiesel now lives in New England as an American citizen. Malnutrition and starvation were common in the concentration camps • With the encouragement of Francois Mauriac, Eliezer Wiesel broke his silence on the horror of the Holocaust to produce an 800 page memoir entitled, Un di Velt Hot Geshvign, in 1956. • That cathartic story was reworked over two years and became the slim 1958 novella La Nuit which became Night in 1960. • Wiesel's novel revealed the Holocaust in stark, evocative, detail. Background of Novel: Elie as a young boy; passengers load onto the trains • This story is about Elie Wiesel, a young teenage, Jewish boy who is a survivor of the holocaust. • The story takes place in Sighet, Transylvania, Hungary, and Auschwitz, Germany in 1944-1945 • The German troops invade his hometown, force all of the Jews to load up on a train and travel to Auschwitz. • Night begins in 1941 in a Hasidic Community in the town of Sighet, Transylvania. • There we meet a devout young boy named Eliezer who is so fascinated by his own culture and religion that he wishes to study Jewish cabbala. • His father, however, says he must master the Talmud before he can move on to the mystical side of the Jewish faith. • Moshe the Beadle indulges the boy until the reality of World War II reaches them. • The fascists come to power in Romania and foreign Jews are deported; Moshe with them. • Some days later, he makes it back to town and tells them what happened. • All the people presumed deported were shot. Sighet Synagogue • That was only the beginning, the dusk of the coming night. • Within a matter of paragraphs, officers of the Nazi SS corps have arrived and the family is broken up and sent to Birkenau. • The metaphorical night only gets darker as Eliezer struggles to survive in the brutality and degradation of the camps. “The yellow star? Oh well, what of it? You don’t die of it…” Elie Wiesel’s father Background • They first arrive in Birkenau where Eliezer and his father are separated from his mother and sisters, never to see them again. • They have to endure “selections” (where the German troops select those who will go to the furnace and die, and those who will go to the barracks and work). The many barbed wires and barracks of a concentration camp Background – Problems and Conflict • Wiesel encounters many obstacles, mentally, physically, and spiritually, that he must endure. • He is forced to witness murders, is malnourished, and is constantly doubting his once confident faith. • The entire story is based on his experience there. Characters • Eliezer - The narrator of Night, protagonist, a teenage boy in the 1940’s. Dedicated to his faith in the beginning. • Chlomo - Eliezer’s father. His name is only mentioned one time throughout the whole novel, and is the only other character that is constant until the end. Highly regarded in the community. • Moshe the Beadle Eliezer’s teacher of Jewish mysticism, Moshe is a poor Jew who lives in Sighet. Characters • Madame Schächter A Jewish woman from Sighet who is deported with the rest of the community, and goes crazy. • Juliek A young musician who Eliezer meets in Auschwitz. • Tibi and Yosi Two brothers who Eliezer becomes friends with. Characters • Dr. Josef Mengele the historically infamous Dr. Mengele was the cruel doctor who presided over the selection of arrivals at Auschwitz/Birkenau. • Idek - Eliezer’s Kapo (Nazi police officer at Buna, the work camp) Dr. Josef Mengele was appropriately nicknamed “the Angle of Death” by inmates at Auschwitz Symbols Thematic Ideas Fire Night Eliezer’s struggle to maintain faith in a benevolent God Silence Inhumanity toward other humans The importance of FatherSon bonds Rhetorical Devices Wiesel’s use of language helps emphasize the meaning, action, and tone of the sections. Rhetorical Devices Rhetorical Questions: Rhetorical questions are asked to achieve a purpose other than finding the answer to the question. The speaker may want to encourage reflection in the reader. For example, when Eliezer sees the babies being thrown into the fire, he asks a series of questions. “Was I still alive? Was I awake? How was it possible that men, women, and children were being burned and that the world kept silent?” (p. 32) Eliezer does not expect an answer to these questions. He wants the reader to think about what his or her reaction might have been in seeing the same thing. Rhetorical Devices Sentence variety Pay attention to the sentence structures that Wiesel uses in the narration. At some points in the memoir the sentences are long, and in some passages the sentences are only one word. Wiesel varies the sentences length, structure, and order in order to parallel action in the passage or to help establish a tone. Rhetorical Devices Understatement Wiesel uses understatement throughout Night to help the reader visualize the events in the memoir. Because many people are familiar with the details of the Holocaust, Wiesel understands that it would be difficult to adequately describe the true nature of what happened. Instead, he lets the silence between the words serve as the true meaning. Figurative language Wiesel uses figurative language throughout the memoir to amplify the images that the narration already creates. Figurative language Simile Be certain not to miss the “like” or “as” when reading the descriptions. For example, when Eliezer describes Mrs. Schachter on the train he states: “…she looked like a withered tree in a field of wheat.” (p. 25) The image shows a woman who stands alone among the people who surround her. She is already dead, as indicated by the word withered. Figurative language Metaphor Metaphors can be recognized by finding the two ideas that are being compared. For example, as the prisoners are first being transported from Sighet, they come face to face with the men who will be guarding them. Eliezer uses the following metaphor to describe the men. “Strange-looking creatures, dressed in striped jackets and black pants, jumped into the wagon.” (p. 28) The image of the strange-looking creatures is meant to describe the men who come into the train to brutalize the prisoners. They are not really creatures, but Wiesel’s image illustrates their animalistic brutality. Figurative language Personification Personification is used to give human qualities to animals or objects. “A glacial wind was enveloping us.” (p. 36) “The stomach alone was measuring time.” (p. 52) “Jealousy devoured us, consumed us.” (p. 59) Figurative language Irony Verbal irony is when someone says one thing and means another; dramatic irony is when the reader knows something that the character does not know; situational irony is the discrepancy between the expected results and the actual results. For example, when Eliezer goes to meet the dentist, the dentist has a mouth of “yellow, rotten teeth.” (p. 51) The irony is that a dentist should have mouth of perfect teeth. Another example of irony is the inscription that is on the iron gate at Auschwitz: “Work makes you free.” Figurative Language Foreshadowing Foreshadowing is a literary device that is used when the speaker gives hints about what is going to happen later in the plot. There are various examples of foreshadowing in Night, but they are very subtle. The reader often recognizes them after reading further in the text. One of the clearest examples of foreshadowing is Mrs. Schächter’s vision of the fires before the prisoners reach the camps. (p. 24) Motifs Throughout Night, Wiesel repeats literary devices and images that help to develop the memoir’s major themes. Notice how night and light are used throughout the text; how the Jewish traditions and holidays help to pace the memoir; and how animal imagery is used to explore the dehumanization of the Jews. Point of View or Narration a story in which the narrator speaks in the first person as he relates to the story. The narrator may or may not be the protagonist Wiesel uses the first-person point of view to narrate Think about the effect first-person narration has on the reader. How does it make the reader feel? Mood the feeling created by the setting, characters, or action of a work Allusion - a reference to a text, historical figure, event, or place that the writer expects the reader to understand Why does writers use allusion? What do allusions have to offer readers? U.S. President Barack Obama presents the 2009 National Humanities Medal to Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel… …in the East Room of the White House in Washington, February 25, 2010. Recognition… • Wiesel has lived his life speaking out against all forms of racism and violence. • In 1985 he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Freedom and, in 1986, the Nobel Prize for Peace. • He is partially responsible for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. The house in Sighet where Wiesel was born… photographed in 2007. The image depicts a deserted street in Sighet's Jewish getto, after the Jews were deported from it to be exterminated at Auschwitz, in May 1944… …just three weeks before the Normandy invasion.