Night is a novel written from the perspective of a Jewish teenager, about his experiences as a prisoner during the Holocaust. Our teenager named Eliezer grew up in the small community of Sighet, located in Hungarian Transylvania. It’s here that Eliezer studies religion, both the Cabbala and the Torah. At the beginning of the war Eliezer was dedicated and absolute in his belief of God, but throughout the events of World War II his faith slowly starts to wither away.
Eliezer’s main conflict that governs the story would be sustaining his belief in God. This becomes especially hard throughout the book, as he has to face more and more challenging ssues. Moshe the Beadle is the one character that Eliezer learned about his faith from, Moshes teachings frame the conflict that Eliezer faces during the story. One point that Moshe teaches Eliezer is that religion is based on two concepts; that god is everywhere, even within an individual and that faith is based on questions not answers.
A majority of the story focuses on our main characters questions, and how he is constantly questioning how their can be such evil the world when he has been told all his life that God is everywhere and since God is good that means that everything is good. Because of this our protagonists feels as though he has been mislead and lied to about the true nature of human beings and the world around him. Like with all the prisoners having a change in heart and willing to do anything they can to survive the day including hurting and betraying their very own family’s, makes Eliezer question why God is so cruel, or if he exists at all.
It’s in these moments that Eliezer has lost all faith he had in humanity and religion, which he had previously learned from Moshe. Because of this our protagonists feels as though he has been mislead and lied to about he true nature of human beings and the world around him. Like with all the prisoners having a change in heart and willing to do anything they can to survive the day including hurting and betraying their very own family’s, makes Eliezer question why God is so cruel, or if he exists at all.
It’s in these moments that Eliezer has lost all faith he had in humanity and religion, which he had previously learned from Moshe. One point in the story that Eliezer questions his faith in God is when they are forced to watch the hanging of other prisoners, one time the Gestapo even hangs and kills a small child or being associated with the rebels. It seems that during this point the prisoners start to react for means of survival only, family members were turning on each other. The prisoners turn cold hearted and cruel towards each other because now their only concern is survival.
Because of the horrific events in the concentration camp and the ever-present risk of death does Eliezer begin to lose his faith in humanity and his God. Eliezer has a tough time understanding how the world and the Gestapo can be capable of this much fury. Because his teachings tell him that God is good, and since God is everywhere the world therefore must be good. Another strong theme from the book is the importance of family bonds, especially if that’s all you have left in harsh conditions.
Eliezer has a hard time watching the other families interact because they no longer share a special bond of love but instead share the idea of selfishness. More than once Eliezer experiences the rupture of the bond a family shares between both the father and son. He describes his bond with his father as a support system; they both ensure the other has enough to survive through the day. Their love and commitment for each other makes up for the lack of faith in God Eliezer feels. So instead Eliezer focuses on his father’s respect to all the other people stuck in the same predicament as him.
Because Eliezer believed that his father would die without his support was his one sole reason for not letting the Gestapo kill him in many instances. The story Night takes you on a heart-wrenching story about the events Eliezer must face in order to survive the concentration camps. While there were many challenges he struggles the most with the concept of maintaining his faith in his benevolent God. Part of the challenge that Eliezer has difficulty understanding is how god can be good which in turn makes the whole world good.
He doesn’t understand this because before they were deported to the concentration camps Eliezer never had to experience any harsh times, but all of sudden he is stuck as a prisoner in the war and can’t believe that there are people out there as cruel and terrifying as the Gestapo. Eliezer also has difficulty with some of the viciousness that the other prisoners display towards the others, but yet he understands it at the same time, because he is going through the same hunger, pain and desperation.
And lastly the bond that Eliezer shares with his father is important to the story because now he has someone whom he can consistently depend on. Without his father we would have seen the hope and humanity lost within Eliezer. The struggle for survival, under harsh conditions changes Eliezer as he undergoes some major changes, one of them being his total faith for his lord and saviour, which then switches to him being hollow of most human emotions. In the end Eliezer has changed from being an innocent schoolboy to a tough and scarred young man, who only has one thought running through his head; survival.