Night by Elie Wiesel
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There were many situations that Elie Wiesel has experienced which brought about a change in his character. In the memoir, Night, Elie Wiesel changes in response to his concentration camp experiences. The separation from his loved ones and the horrible conditions of these camps affected Elie greatly. The Holocaust affected Elie physically, emotionally and also spiritually. Elie changed physically by being a healthy human being into a walking skeleton. The Jews can be described as “skin and bones”. The Jews were extremely weak. They were forced to work at labor camps, which must’ve been extremely difficult. The lack of food served at the concentration camps, as well as poor quality of what was served made him that way. They were only fed stale bread and thing soup. They were eating as little as 300 calories a day! The average person should be having 1500-2000 calories a day. It gets to the point where everything revolves around food and each person’s survival. According to page 104, Elie’s father claims that the other prisoners were beating him. Elie then says “I began to abuse neighbors. They laughed at me. I promised them bread, and soup” Elie knows that food is the most valuable thing you need in the concentration camps. That is why he uses bread and soup in order to sway the other prisoners from giving his father a hard time. “One day when we had come to a stop, a worker took a piece of bread out of his bag and threw it into a wagon. There was a stampede. Dozens of starving men fought desperately over a few crumbs.
The worker watched the spectacle with great interest.” (100) This shows how people were so terribly desperate for food in order to survive. Elie Wiesel has also changed emotional. In the beginning of the story, Wiesel’s father was like the patriarch not just to the family, but to the community as well. When the Germans occupied Sighet, the neighbors would seek the advice of Wiesel’s father. At the camps, the father was still somewhat the patriarch. He advised Wiesel not to draw attention to himself and even prisoners who knew him before came to him. Elie Wiesel had changed emotionally soon after entering the camps because he had a better relationship with his father and his only goal was to take care of his father because that was the first time got close to him. Elie is determined in protecting father. Throughout the book, he is seen caring for his father in a variety of ways, sharing his soup with him and seeking medical help. Towards the end of the book, when his father is weak and sick and Elie is emotionally and physically spent from the torture, he temporarily wishes to get rid of his father because he has become a burden. Then when Wiesel is taken to the crematorium while Elie is sleeping, he feels terribly guilty and fears that his father may have been burned alive. In the beginning we see Elie Wiesel who was devoted in time studying the Talmud and dreaming one day of studying the Cabala. He was a boy who had faith and innocence. At Auschwitz, Elie and the other prisoners worked long hours with very little food and battled the severe cold weather.
Every week, people would collapse from exhaustion. If they lost the strength to survive, they would be sent to the gas chambers or their body would be thrown into a mass grave. Elie, who once had faith in God, changed his way of believing him. He questioned his existence and asked him how could he let this happen “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” (31)? These experiences changed Elie’s personality and life. Elie became more independent. He knew that he was alone in the world and that he could not trust anyone in that situation. It was all about self-preservation. The priorities he once had, have changed and Elie is found doing things out of his character. These experiences can affect his future. He had lost contact with all his loved ones. He was alone after the liberation of the concentration camps. Elie Wiesel had to start anew all on his own. He was not able to talk about his experiences until ten years later. Elie Wiesel was traumatized from all the horrific experiences he went through in those concentration camps. After bearing witness of such horrific scenes in the camps, Elie began to question his faith in God and asked Him how could he let these things go like this.
Despite his dwindling faith, he never completely lost it. It was his little bit of faith and his father’s presence that motivated him to keep fighting for his life. The book “Night” showed me the disturbing disregard for human beings, or the human body itself. The animalistic acts by the Nazis have scarred mankind eternally with hatred and discrimination. This book shows me what humans are capable of and that we should all be aware of that. “Night” is just one of many memoirs written by Elie Wiesel, who survived the Holocaust. Wiesel feels compelled to bear witness to the suffering that he experienced and observed in the concentration camps. In “Night” he writes about the experience of the deaths of his family members, the death of his adolescence, and the death in his naive belief in man’s innate goodness. The power of the memoir is that it captures the experience and insists that forgetting about such crimes against humanity is not an option. People must endure hardships in life, some harder than others. In the 1940’s the Japanese American internment was the cruel forcing removal and then relocation of roughly 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans. (James Black, 3-6) About sixty-two percent of these Japanese that were relocated were United States citizens. The Japanese were relocated from their homes on the West Coast of the United States during the Second World War. The relocation was due to nervous and false inclinations of subversion after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
The people and the government seemed to demand that the Japanese Americans be treated as a threat to U.S. security. The Japanese Americans were treated inhumanely. The relocation of the Japanese began in mid-February and by the end of 1942, almost the entire Japanese American population on the West Coast, more than 110,000 men, women, and children had been relocated to internment camps throughout the country. The Japanese were rounded up and shipped eventually to internment camps. These consisted of poorly constructed barracks surrounded by barbed wire, sentry posts and armed guards. They were put in these camps, not because they had been tried and found guilty of something, but because either they or their parents or ancestors were from Japan so therefore, they were a “threat” to national security. They were also easily identifiable due to their race. Saburo Masada was one of the many who survived from the Internment camps. Masada would never forget another date, March 16, 1942. That day, a U.S. Army truck drove into the front yard of the Masadas’ farm.
All nine family members were loaded into it and taken to the Fresno fairgrounds. Once a fun place, the fairgrounds now was surrounded with barbed wire fences and guard towers with soldiers manning guns pointed at Saburo and other Japanese Americans. “The government tried to say in the propaganda that it was to protect us, but the towers and the guns were pointed at us.” (Tammy Real-McKeighan, 47-48) Saburo had witness many innocent deaths. These Internment camps transformed his life and future. To Masada and other children, the incarceration was extremely traumatic. People were separated from their loved ones. Two-thirds of the prisoners were children under age 15. Japanese Americans were kept on a rodeo grounds for five months, before being transported in old, rickety
trains to an Arizona camp. They got to take two duffel bags of belongings per person. They were given tags with numbers. “My mother drummed it into us that we were to remember our number because ‘they will not know you by your name from now on. You are a number.’ It was a way of dehumanizing us,” she said. (Real-McKeighan, 62-64) They were treated inhumanely. Many Japanese people owned good businesses, but they were all taken away. When they were liberated, they had nothing to go back to. They had to start anew from rock bottom. Masada has also changed emotionally. “My whole experience in camp was a traumatic one I was made to feel that I started the war. I felt being Japanese was bad. … I felt a hurt I couldn’t explain. I didn’t know how to fight back, I would be so angry I would take it out on others,” (Real-McKeighan, 70-73) Saburo Masada and Elie Wiesel are both amazing survivors of being in a concentration camp.
Masada was a survivor of the Japanese Internment camps and Elie Wiesel was a survivor of the Concentration camp. Masada and Wiesel were both separated from their loved ones. They were forced to leave everything behind to only bring their personal belongings that were eventually going to be taken away by the guards at the camps. Masada and Wiesel had similar living experiences in the barracks. They lived in tight spaces with several people and had diseases spreading which killed many people. Both tragic events lasted for about 4 years and also four years of witnessing innocent deaths. The reason why they were taken into camps was because of their race. The Germans thought that Jews did not belong because they were not German. The U.S thought that Japanese people were threats to them after the attack of Pearl Harbor. They both also think that the main point is to pay tribute so that we never forget about these tragic events. You should spread the word and let everyone know what human beings are capable of. However, there were some differences from the Japanese Internment camp victims and the Holocaust survivors.
The reason why Japanese victims were taken in camps because the U.S thought they were threats since the Japanese American citizens’ ancestors were originally from Japan. Since Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, the U.S was extremely paranoid. Jews were forced into concentration camps because Germans truly thought they were the reason why they lost to WWI. Hitler believed white European people to be the founders of culture and specifically blonde hair blue eyed northern Europeans to be the peak of human kind, Jews did not fit these ideas culturally or racially. Jews were seen as non-German and alien to German culture. Conditions in some of the American internment camps were certainly harsh, and some guards were petty minded. However, the intention of the extermination camps and the forced labor camps was to kill the Jews, not to intern them. (Chris Fryer, 34-36) Saburo Masado had struggled in the Internment camps. Although he struggled, he faced the evil in this by being determined to survive. He wanted to go back to the farm he and his family owned and live a normal life. He wanted to be free and to tell let the world know that you should pay tribute. Never forget the tragic events. Always speak up. His determination and his family led him to survival. America should celebrate rather than hide from this mistake because the Japanese dominated and they are one of the ethnicities that drive America. The pains of the Japanese Americans in the camps should not be left out of history books but rather be celebrated for their triumph during one of America’s darkest times.
Almendrala, Anna. “Japanese American Internment Camp Stories: Survivors Urged To Tell Their Tale For ‘Remembrance Project'” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 27 Feb. 2012. Web. 16 Mar. 2013.
Black, James. “Japanese Internment Camps of World War II.” Yahoo! Contributor Network. N.p., 22 Sept. 2009. Web. 16 Mar. 2013.
Fryer, Chris. “Allan Hida Shares Experience with Japanese Internment Camps.”Sacramento Press / Allan Hida Shares Experience with Japanese Internment Camps. N.p., 9 Dec. 2010. Web. 16 Mar. 2013
Real-McKeighan, Tammy. “Couple Shares Story of Living in Japanese Internment Camps.” Fremont Tribune. N.p., 24 Apr. 2012. Web. 16 Mar. 2013.