"Studium discendi voluntate quae cogi non potest constat" - Marcus Fabius Quintilianus

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In Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel's memoir Night, a scholarly, pious teenager is wracked with guilt at having survived the horror of the Holocaust and the genocidal campaign that consumed his family. His memories of the nightmare world of the death camps present him with an intolerable question: how can the God he once so fervently believed in have allowed these monstrous events to occur? There are no easy answers in this harrowing book, which probes life's essential riddles with the lucid anguish only great literature achieves. It marks the crucial first step in Wiesel's lifelong project to bear witness for those who died.

Facts & Questions about Night:

Wiesel first wrote a 900-page text in Yiddish titled Un di Velt Hot Geshvign (And the World Remained Silent). The work later evolved into the much-shorter French publication La Nuit, which was then translated into English as Night.
Time and place written · Mid-1950s, Paris. Wiesel began writing after a ten-year self-imposed vow of silence about the Holocaust.
Narrator · Eliezer (a slightly fictionalized version of Elie Wiesel)
Point of view · Eliezer speaks in the first person and always relates the autobiographical events from his perspective.
Tone · Eliezer’s perspective is limited to his own experience, and the tone of Night is therefore intensely personal, subjective, and intimate. Night is not meant to be an all-encompassing discourse on the experience of the Holocaust; instead, it depicts the extraordinarily personal and painful experiences of a single victim.
Settings (place) · Eliezer’s story begins in Sighet, Transylvania (now part of Romania; during Wiesel’s childhood, part of Hungary). The book then follows his journey through several concentration camps in Europe: Auschwitz/Birkenau (in a part of modern-day Poland that had been annexed by Germany in 1939), Buna (a camp that was part of the Auschwitz complex), Gleiwitz (also in Poland but annexed by Germany), and Buchenwald (Germany).
protagonist · Eliezer
Major conflict · Eliezer’s struggles with Nazi persecution, and with his own faith in God and in humanity
Rising action · Eliezer’s journey through the various concentration camps and the subsequent deterioration of his father and himself
Climax · The death of Eliezer’s father
Falling action · The liberation of the concentration camps, the time spent in silence between Eliezer’s liberation and Elie Wiesel’s decision to write about his experience, referred to in the memoir when Eliezer jumps ahead to events that happened after the Holocaust
Themes · Eliezer’s struggle to maintain faith in a benevolent God; silence; inhumanity toward other humans; the importance of father-son bonds
Motifs · Tradition, religious observance
Symbols · Night, fire
Foreshadowing - Night does not operate like a novel, using foreshadowing to hint at surprises to come. The pall of tragedy hangs over the entire novel, however. Even as early as the work’s dedication, “In memory of my parents and my little sister, Tzipora,” Wiesel makes it evident that Eliezer will be the only significant character in the book who survives the war. As readers, we are not surprised by their inevitable deaths; instead, Wiesel’s narrative shocks and stuns us with the details of the cruelty that the prisoners experience.
"One day I was able to get up, after gathering all my strength. I wanted to see myself in the mirror hanging on the opposite wall. I had not seen myself since the ghetto."
"From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me. The look in his eyes, as they stared into mine, has never left me."
-Elizier, Night
In his 1996 memoir All Rivers Run to the Sea, Elie Wiesel writes, in reference to the responsibility of the Holocaust survivor, “To be silent is impossible, to speak forbidden.” What do you think Wiesel means? How does he resolve or circumvent this paradox?
What role does chance play in Eliezer’s survival of the Holocaust? What role does choice play? Do your answers to these questions have any implications regarding the extent of control that a person has over his or her life?
One of the most tragic themes in Night is Eliezer’s discovery of the way that atrocities and cruel treatment can make good people into brutes. Does he himself escape this fate?
Night is essentially Elie Wiesel’s memoir about his experiences in the Holocaust. Yet, there are minor differences between Wiesel’s own experiences and those of Night’s narrator, Eliezer. Why might that be? Must a memoir be absolutely factual?

Geographic Setting for

Get Directions to Our Location
Elie Wiesel Memorial House
Address: Str. Tudor Vladimirescu 1
Tel: (240) 513.249

"Located at the corner of Dragos Voda and Tudor Vladimirescu streets, not far from the Wijnitzer Klaus synagogue, the house where 1986 Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel was born is now a museum dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust and the Jewish way of life in Sighet before World War II."

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