A soul shrivels in the flames of hell

Some revision on Night.

Elie Wiesel’s autobiography, Night, tells of the Jewish children, men and women who were herded into Nazi extermination camps. It is the story of his survival but also of the tragedy of an innocent, religious youth who, when confronted by a systematic human evil, comes to reject and hate his God for allowing it to happen.

More tragic still, it is the story of a 15-year-old boy who feels the most extreme shame, self-loathing and guilt for daring to exist while those around him, including his father, die.

The values of family and community life and the young people’s obligations to and respect for their parents are important elements. Early in Night, signs of the looming disaster for the Jews of the small Hungarian town of Sighet are evident – the eyewitness tales of Moche the Beadle, the rise of the fascist government in Budapest – yet the older Jews, set in their ways, continually hope for the best, refusing to contemplate escape: “It was still possible to obtain emigration permits for Palestine.

“I had asked my father to sell out, liquidate his business and leave. `I’m too old, my son,’ he replied. `I’m too old to start a new life’.”

When Elie’s family is offered refuge, Mr Wiesel refuses, preferring to remain with his wife and small daughter, Tzipora. But, on suggesting that his older children fly to freedom, “Naturally, we refused to be separated”. The word “naturally” evokes an image of a tight-knit family group that will attempt to endure together.

Read the rest here.


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