Night — Reader Q&A
Night Discussion Questions
How does he resolve or circumvent this paradox? Those who did not experience the Holocaust, it is fair to say, cannot begin to understand what it was like; those who did cannot begin to describe it. To speak of the concentration camps is to fail to convey the depth of the evil, and any failure is disrespectful to the memories of those who died in the Holocaust. Speech, therefore, may seem forbidden, because it necessarily fails to express the truth of the Holocaust. Yet, if nobody speaks of the Holocaust, those who died will go forgotten. It has become a commonplace among AIDS activists to use a slogan equating silence with death; similarly, it is the very real fear of many Holocaust survivors that a failure to speak about what happened during the Holocaust could lead to a possible recurrence of the same evil. Silence, it is sometimes said, gives a posthumous victory to Hitler, because it erases the memory of the atrocities that were committed at his command.
Sign up for our newsletters! Compare Wiesel's preface to the memoir itself. Has his perspective shifted in any way over the years? In his Nobel lecture, presented in , Wiesel writes of the power of memory, including the notion that the memory of death can serve as a shield against death. He mentions several sources of injustice that reached a boiling point in the s, such as Apartheid and the suppression of Lech Walesa, as well as fears that are still with us, such as terrorism and the threat of nuclear war. Will 21st-century society be marked by remembrance, or by forgetting? What does young Eliezer tell us about the town, community, and home that defined his childhood?
Wiesel, a survivor of two Nazi concentration camps, has indeed returned from the dead with a story to tell, a story he has spent his adult life recounting. Like all writers, he is a witness, attempting to preserve history with his words. And yet in his case, the event was so horrific, the consequences so enormous that the author of ''The Testament,'' a novel that Summit Books will publish this month, says he is caught in a ''dialectical conflict'' between the need to recount and the futility of all explanation. It is too serious to play games with anymore because in my place someone else could have been saved. And so I speak for that person. On the other hand, I know I cannot.
From the SparkNotes Blog
Elie Wiesel's Night: Discussion Questions. But if this is the last page of the human chronicles, assure us that we had the right to ask. He has conquered space, but forgotten his prayer. Consider Wiesel's reflections in his preface to the new translation: What do the contrary questions suggest about the state of Wiesel's attitude and mind towards his suffering? What role does memory play in Wiesel's motivation for writing Night? Why is it important to him? What does it mean to be a witness?
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Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, 77, is a teacher, writer—and survivor. This book came out 45 years ago in America. At the beginning, there were very few readers! Priests and rabbis, when they spoke about the book, were reprimanded by parents who said, Why turn our children into morbid persons? Curiosity has increased, especially among young people. And now, thanks to the extraordinary voice of Oprah, people will read it who had never heard of me before.