For the longest time I refused to read Night by Elie Wiesel. I kept telling myself that it was just another heart-breaking story of a young boy who lived through the Holocaust. I didn’t want to face the unsettling and depressing account that has haunted my bookshelf all these years. Eventually I realized that hiding from something doesn’t make it go away, in fact, it usually gets worse. If every person on this planet denies the stories of these people and avoids talking and thinking about that horrible time, what’s to stop it from happening again? So I read it.

night, ellie wiesel, book cover, book review, holocaust 

The story follows Eliezer (a character invented to distance the author from the experience) through his experiences in Auschwitz, Buna, and Gleiwitz. His experiences jump out and possess the reader. We follow his complicated love-hate relationship with a God that has abandoned God’s most devoted followers. We wonder with him why the rest of the world remained silent in the face of such brutality. We see inhumanity toward other humans through the eyes of one who experienced it. We celebrate the beautiful father-son relationship while regretting that this relationship results in a sacrifice.

I don’t really know what else to say about this book except that it was exactly what I expected: gloomy, heartbreaking, horrifying, and shocking. It’s not a good book since the events that take place within these pages are certainly not good, but it is well written and worth reading. It is bleak and blunt; Elie Wiesel does not hold back in the recounting of his tale.

How did you react to Night?


2 thoughts on “Night

  1. Eston

    This was a text I used when I taught English 9, and it's a pretty common freshman English text in my division. It dovetailed temporally with students' World History course content as they delved into World War II. In English, we used it as a springboard to delve into symbolism, imagery, and father-son dynamics (for some comparison/contrast with The Odyssey).

    Far and away, this was the book that most frequently a) my kids who had difficulty reading would really want to sponge up and b) had kids of all reading-comfort levels read ahead/finish early. Part of that probably stems from the text's diminutive size, esp. relative to some of our other tomes (NB the aforementioned Odyssey, even in excerpted form). The kids' appetite for such a stark work always surprised me.

    Probably one of the most challenging pieces of the book, and the kind of thing that a first-year teacher doesn't anticipate, is the reaction from some kids along the lines of, “Why didn't they just take the machine guns and overpower them? I'd've done that!” Really, ninth grade probably isn't the time when kids would get the *most* out of this book: boys in particular struggle with the level of empathy needed for maximum effect.


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