Night is a biography of Elie Wiesel's experiences as a Jew within concentration camps during the 1940's. The story begins in 1941 in Sighet, Transylvania, were the Jews are optimistic about the potential outcome of the war. Despite multiple warnings, Elie and his family stay within their city and end up getting evacuated and transported to the Nazi concentration camp Birkenau. At this point, Elie and his father are separated from his mother and sisters whom they will never see again. The story progresses as it follows Elie through the day to day life in the concentration camps depicting the horrors found within these unknown prisons. Elie ends up living in other concentration camps including Auschwitz, Buna, and Buchenwald. The story continues to follow Elie until the Jews are rescued from the camp in April of 1945.

Major Characters:

  • Elie- Author of the book, tells the story of his experiences within the concentration camps. We follow Elie's spiritual and emotional changes through the book and get to understand a piece of how the camps affected its victims.
  • Elie's Father (Shlomo)- Elie's Father is Elie's companion throughout his time in the concentration camps. The two keep each other going and are there for each other through all their difficult experiences.
  • Moishe the Beadle- Moishe befriends Elie and becomes his spiritual counselor. Moishe is evacuated because he is a foreign Jew, but returns to warn the Jews of the horrors he had seen. Unfortunately, nobody believes his warnings.
  • Madame Schacter- Madame Schacter travels on the train with the Jews to the concentration camp and screams about seeing fire. At first people try to calm her down, but eventually they turn hostile towards her.
  • Stein of Antwerp- A relative of Elie. At the concentration camp he comes and asks Elie and his father if they have any news about his family. Elie likes and tells him they are fine to cheer him up, but Stein finds out the truth.
  • Doctor Mengele- A doctor in the concentration camp who did human experiments. He is the one who decides who gets to live and who will die.

Likes and Dislikes:
As I read Night I enjoyed how you got to understand what the concentration camps were like from someone who had actually experienced them, and how honest and real his descriptions were. You could picture exactly what he was talking about. My only dislike was how it seemed like it was a spotty story. There were a lot of little stories which all tied together in the big picture, but it would jump from one story to another, which kind of threw me off at first.

What can we learn from reading this book?
Through reading Night the main lesson we can learn is that in the worst of situations, everyone will do anything to keep themselves alive. People take extensive measures to meet their own needs, and may even do savage things to keep their best interests in mind.

Essential Questions:

  • What are the root causes of persecution?
    • Persecution is a result of a lack of toleration between two varied opinions, religions, races, or other aspects of personal characteristics. When one opinionated group becomes intolerant of another and believes that they are superior, persecution often occurs. It often occurs to prove that the one group's stance on a topic is better than the other group's or to wipe out the other opinion completely by taking out the group.
  • What are some current examples of persecution that take place in today's world?
    • Some modern examples of persecution include violence due to conflicts between the government and a variety of insurgent groups in Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
  • What does Night teach us about what it means to be human?
    • Night teaches us that at the root of all humans is the essence of each person putting his/herself first and primarily meeting his/her needs. This motivation to provide for oneself will motivate people to do anything in order to meet their needs, even if it only means living for one more minute.

Reflections on Essay:
  • What did I learn from this writing assignment?
    • In this writing assignment I learned a lot about using secondary sources in addition to primary sources as a way to support your main idea. By using more than one source in a literary analysis, your paper becomes more factual and accurately based off the text. Through class discussions I also learned different techniques that will make my paper flow more coherently.
  • What did I do well in this unit?
    • Through my essay I think I did a good job at incorporating primary and secondary sources which served as excellent support for my topic. I also think I applied the skills of coherence, which we had been learning about in class around the time we wrote these essays, through integrating quotes, using transitions, and using repetitions.
  • What areas could I improve on?
    • Within my writing, one area I need to focus on and improve is writing within the same tense. I often get so caught up in expressing my point that I overlook the fact that I'm switching from present to past tense and back again. If I keep in mind the fact that I'm struggling with this in my writing, I think I can greatly improve my writing in the future.