Night – Faith
Night is a dramatic book that tells the horror and evil of the concentration camps that many were imprisoned in during World War II. Throughout the book the author Elie Wiesel, as well as many prisoners, lost their faith in God. There are many examples in the beginning of Night where people are trying to keep and strengthen their faith but there are many more examples of people rebelling against God and forgetting their religion.
The first example of Elie loosing his faith is when he arrived at Auschwitz. Elie and his father are directed to go to the left. A prisoner then informs them that they are on their way to the crematory. Elies father recites the Kaddish or prayer for the dead. Revolt rises up inside of Elie and he questions God.
Why should I bless His name? The Eternal, lord of the Universe, the All-Powerful and Terrible, was silent. What had I to thank Him for? (Wiesel 31)
Another example of prisoners in the concentration camp loosing their faith in Night is when the pipel, a young child, was hung in front of the whole camp. The pipel was the Oberkapos servant. The Oberkapo was the leader of the fifty-second unit. He never struck or insulted the prisoners who worked under him ,that is why the prisoners loved him . Even though most pipels were cruel and hated, this one had the face of a sad angel and was loved by all. The Oberkapo was suspected in the intentional explosion of Bunas electric power station. He was transferred to Auschwitz but the pipel was left behind. The pipel refused to talk . Two other men were also accused. The pipel and the two other men were hung. The two adults died instantly but the pipel was too light and stayed alive for a half an hour.
He was still alive when I passed in front of him. His tongue was still red, his eyes were not yet glazed. Behind me I heard the same man ask 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 (Wiesel 62)
Another time Elie questions God and his faith is around Rosh Hashana, the new year. All the Jews gathered together to say prayers to God. He questions God for allowing all these terrible things to happen to them when they live their lives for Him.
What are You, my God, I thought angrily, compared to this afflicted crowd, proclaiming to you their faith, their anger, their revolt? What does Your greatness mean, Lord of the universe, in the face of all this weakness, this decomposition, and this decay? Why do You still trouble their sick minds, their crippled bodies? Why, but why should I bless Him? In every fiber I rebelled. Because He had had thousands of children burned in His pits? Because He kept six crematories working night and day, on Sundays and feast days? Because in His great might He had created Auschwitz, Birkenau, Buna and so many factories of death? How could I say to him Blessed art Thou, Eternal, Master of the Universe, Who chose us among the races to be tortured day and night, to see our fathers, our mothers, our brothers, end in the crematory? Praised be Thy Holy Name, Thou Who hast chosen us to be butchered on Thine altar? (Wiesel 63 – 64)
Many prisoners lost their faith during “selection”. During selection the weak prisoners, the ones who were unable to work, were chosen to go to the crematory. A boy Elie knew, Akiba Drumer , lost all of his faith. Without God he had no reason to go on living or a reason to endure all the pain and suffering his religion was causing him. He offered to be sent to the crematory.
Lately he had wandered among us, his eyes glazed, telling everyone of his weakness: I cant go on Its all overhe had no strength left, nor faith (Wiesel 72-73)
One other person Elie knew lost his faith during the selections. He was a Polish rabbi. He used to bee extremely religious, reciting the Talmud from memory. Than one day he changed. He said to Elie “Its the end. God is no longer with us.”
Night is a powerful book. When reading it you can trace the characters faith to the exact point where it is lost. You can also tell by reading Night that some people can go on believing in their religion under horrific circumstances and that some people will give up their faith at the first test of loyalty.
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