The novel Night is a memoir and true story about a Jewish boy and his experiences as a prisoner during the Holocaust in World War II. The protagonist, Eliezer, is born in Sighet, a small town in Transylvania. His city had been taken over by Hitler and all the Jews were sent to concentration camps where many were killed, forced to do labor and live in imprisonment. Eliezer struggles to survive against starvation and inhumanity, along with destruction of his faith and battles with the darker side of himself. The novel shows Eliezer’s development by sharpening his personality and influencing his decisions because of the setting, plot and conflict.The setting of the novel impacted Eliezer’s development throughout the story by causing the loss of his innocence and by changing his purpose of life. The setting took place in concentration camps at Auschwitz and Birkenau, where Eliezer experienced cruelty and injustice.
This setting affected Eliezer as it lead to his desensitization of violence and start of maturity. This was shown when Eliezer and the others were lined up to witness a man being condemned to death, “The ten thousands of people who died daily in Auschwitz and Birkenau, in crematoria no longer troubled me” (Wiesel, 62). During his time in concentration camps, Eliezer had seen thousands of men being burnt alive and brutally killed, that it no longer troubled him. When Eliezer first arrived to the camp, in the beginning of the novel, he was terrified after he witnessed the cruelty that was shown by the Nazi officers. This affected Eliezer because he got used to witnessing injustice and cruelty that it caused him to lose his innocence. In addition, the setting also affected Eliezer’s purpose of life. This was shown when Eliezer arrived at a new concentration camp, “My whole desire to live became concentrated in my nails. I scratched, I fought for a breath of air.
I tore at decaying flesh that did not respond” (Wiesel, 94). Eliezer fought for his own breath, scratching and tearing others, not knowing that he’s harming anyone. Slowly his purpose of life changed as he began to focus on his own survival instead of others. Before Eliezer arrived to the concentration camps, his purpose of life was to study his religion and get closer to God, but as the setting changed, his purpose of life also altered.
Later, when he arrived at the camps, his purpose of life changed due to the violence shown by the Nazi and SS officers. Therefore, the setting lead to the development of Eliezer since he lost his innocence and his purpose of life altered.Moreover, the events in the plot also affected Eliezer’s development because it caused him to become courageous and lose hope. One way the plot influenced his progression was by instil in him a sense of bravery. This is shown when the Nazis conducted a selection to weed out the weakest survivors, “Several SS men rushed to find me, creating such confusion that a number of people were able to switch over to the right –among them my father and I.
Still, there were gunshots and some dead” (Wiesel, 96). Eliezer’s father was told to go to the left where the men would be exterminated, but Eliezer risked his life and ran to save him, creating a distraction for the officers so both Eliezer and his father could slip back on to the safe side. When Eliezer first arrived to the camps, he was scared to take any risks because he knew the outcome would be death. This incident affected Eliezer by giving him courage to take huge risks.
In addition, the plot also affected Eliezer to become devoid of hope. This is shown when Eliezer had a surgery on his foot and there was an order to evacuate the camp because the Russians were arriving, “The idea of dying, of ceasing to be, began to fascinate me. To no longer feel the excruciating pain of my foot”(Wiesel, 86).
Eliezer started to lose hope and wanted to die so he could stop feeling the pain of his foot, but he knew he must keep going in order to help his father. In the beginning of the book, Eliezer was motivated and hoped that his father and him will make it through the Holocaust together. Though, as he spent time in concentration camps, Eliezer started to lose the feeling of hope. This incident of the plot affected Eliezer and made him lose hope. The events in the plot affected Eliezer’s development as it made him become courageous and hopeless.Lastly, the conflict also affected Eliezer’s development.
The conflicts in the novel are the difficult challenges that the Jews faced during the Holocaust and their journey through concentration camps. This conflict affected Eliezer as he lost faith in God. During his time in the concentration camps, he witnessed unimaginable acts of brutality that challenged and destroyed his religious faith, “Blessed be God’s name? Why, but why would I bless Him? Every fiber in me rebelled. Because He caused thousands of children to burn in His mass graves?” (Wiesel, 67).
Eliezer began to question God. Angrily mentioning all the terror going on, he felt that his faith no longer had a purpose. While Eliezer experienced more brutality, his faith weakened. He began to question God more and more, until he finally denied God altogether.
In the beginning of the book, Eliezer was a very religious boy who wanted to study his religion as a career, but during the concentration camp he struggled through the lifestyle and he felt his faith drifting away. This conflict affected his relationship and trust in God. In addition, the conflict also develops Eliezer by strengthening the relationship between his father and himself. As Eliezer and his father go through the struggles of surviving in the concentration camps, their relationship builds and the two essentially live for one another, “I tightened my father’s hand.
The old familiar fear; not to lose him”(Wiesel, 104). Eliezer is afraid to lose his father because he is the only hope of family left. In the beginning of the novel, Eliezer and his father were very distant, there was no close relationship between them. After living in the concentration camp and going through starvation, death, and despair, their relationship has undergone a powerful change. Their bonds became strong and they both supported each other. Therefore, the conflict develops Eliezer as he loses his faith in God and becomes more closer to his father.
In conclusion, Eliezer has undergone many changes because of the setting, plot, and conflict of the story. Eliezer’s hope, faith, innocence, and belief of God is lost throughout the story. He also became courageous and closer to his father as he went through the struggles of survival. As his journey through concentration camps continued, his purpose of life altered as well. The once naive, religious, and optimistic boy was later damaged by his horrific experiences. His character has been permanently changed because of all the injustice and inhumanity he witnessed, and the darker side of himself he’s seen. The boy who once was optimistic, later on lost all hope and emotions.
The demoralized and dehumanized Eliezer struggled to redeem his identity. Works CitedWiesel, Elie. Night. Hill and Wang, 1956.