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Night: Symbolism and Irony

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by

Taylor Dinello

on 16 December 2010

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Transcript of Night: Symbolism and Irony

“The night was long and never ending” (Wiesel 93) This simple statement symbolizes what every prisoner in the concentration camps had to live through; darkness. There was little to no hope, and with good reason. The way they were treated; it seemed as if this nightmare would never end. “How could I forget the concert, given to an audience of dying and dead men! To this day, whenever I hear Beethoven played my eyes close and out of the dark rises the sad, pale face of my Polish friend, as he said farewell on his violin to an audience of dying men” (Wiesel 90). The song Juliek played is a symbol to Elie; a symbol of farewells. The fashion in which Juliek played his final tune was so sad and depressing that it stuck with Elie till even now. Juliek had most likely known that he would not survive the night, and was playing his heart out to make his last moments count. Like Elie says, “how could I forget…!” Examples of Symbolism via shmoop.com
Night
Night is used throughout the book to symbolize death, darkness of the soul, and loss of faith. As an image, it comes up repeatedly. Even when the scene is literally set during the day, night may be invoked. Consider all the terrible things that happen at night: Mrs. Schächter has her visions of fire, hell, and death; Eliezer and his father arrive at Auschwitz and see the smokestacks and wait in line all night long with the smell of death in their noses; there is the night the soup tastes like corpses; they march through long nights and, stacked on top of each other, smother each other to death in the night; Eliezer’s father dies during the night. As Eliezer says himself, "The days were like nights, and the nights left the dregs of their darkness in our souls" (7.22). Night is thus a metaphor for the way the soul was submerged in suffering and hopelessness.

Reflection of Corpses
The image of corpses is used not only to describe literal death, but also to symbolize spiritual death. After liberation, when Eliezer looks at himself for the first time in many months, he sees a corpse in the mirror. The look in his eyes as he stares at himself never leaves him. It speaks of the horror he has experienced and seen, which stole his childhood innocence and his faith in God’s mercy and justice.

Fire, flames
Fire and flames are used to symbolize death. In Chapter Two, as the train full of Jews from Sighet approaches Auschwitz, Mrs. Schächter has a vision of fire and flames. She screeches about the fire through the long night and then again the following night. When they at last arrive at Auschwitz, the inhabitants of the car understand what she was talking about: the crematoria, where bodies of prisoners are burned. Fire is an ever-present threat of death; the view and the smell of the crematoria permeate all aspects of life in the concentration camps, reminding the prisoners of their closeness to death. Symbolism: the art or practice of using symbols especially by investing things with a symbolic meaning or by expressing the invisible or intangible by means of visible or sensuous representations Most of the day, we worked as slave labor in the factory, making bullets for German soldiers
I had a good impression . . . you know, a doctor is a doctor, and so he's not going to hurt me. But of course he did. "... We saw the barbed wire of another camp. An iron door with this inscription over it: 'Work is liberty' Auschwitz."(38) "Three days after the liberation of Buchenwald I became very ill with food poisoning. I was transferred to the hospital and spent two weeks between life and death."(109) "I've got more faith in Hitler than anyone else. He's the only one who's kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people."(77) "The passengers on our boat were amusing themselves by throwing coins to the 'natives'... I suddenly noticed that two children were engaged in a death struggle... I turned to the lady, 'Please,' I begged, 'don't throw any more money in' 'Why not?' She asked. 'I like to give to charity...'"(95) This quote demonstrates irony because these people were treated as slaves. The work that is described in this sign is not ment to give the Jewish liberty but its purpose was to create more pain and suffering. This sign at the beginning of the concentration camp was a lie, there was no liberty instore for these people, there was only death and pain. How Elie Wiesel had written about his near death experience, not being during his time in the concentration camps but due to food poisoning, was the essence of irony because Elie had basically walked through Hell and had survived yet something as simple as food poisoning had nearly caused his death. Elie was a strong fighter and had witnessed many people suffer and die in crematories or freeze to death. He had become such a strong individual yet in the end he almost met his demise but something so simple and easy to fight off. This quote shows irony by saying that in a time when these people would normally but all their faith into surviving and believing their God would protect them they ended up beginning to believe in the one man who managed to bring about their own personal Hell. They put their faith in a tyrant bent on destroying them and not someone that wcould help them in the end. Irony: the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning How do these pictures Use symbolism/ irony? -The image of corpses is used not only to describe literal death, but also to symbolize spiritual death. After liberation, when Eliezer looks at himself for the first time in many months, he sees a corpse in the mirror. The look in his eyes as he stares at himself never leaves him. It speaks of the horror he has experienced and seen, which stole his childhood innocence and his faith in God’s mercy and justice. -fire and flames are used to symbolize death. In Chapter Two, as the train full of Jews from Sighet approaches Auschwitz, Mrs. Schächter has a vision of fire and flames. She screeches about the fire through the long night and then again the following night. When they at last arrive at Auschwitz, the inhabitants of the car understand what she was talking about: the crematoria, where bodies of prisoners are burned. Fire is an ever-present threat of death; the view and the smell of the crematoria permeate all aspects of life in the concentration camps, reminding the prisoners of their closeness to death. -night is used throughout the book to symbolize death, darkness of the soul, and loss of faith. As an image, it comes up repeatedly. Even when the scene is literally set during the day, night may be invoked. Consider all the terrible things that happen at night: Mrs. Schächter has her visions of fire, hell, and death; Eliezer and his father arrive at Auschwitz and see the smokestacks and wait in line all night long with the smell of death in their noses; there is the night the soup tastes like corpses; they march through long nights and, stacked on top of each other, smother each other to death in the night; Eliezer’s father dies during the night. As Eliezer says himself, "The days were like nights, and the nights left the dregs of their darkness in our souls" (7.22). Night is thus a metaphor for the way the soul was submerged in suffering and hopelessness. This passage represents irony because when a doctor becomes a doctor he or she takes an oath it is called the oath of Hippocrates, which states that a doctor will not harm or do anything to his patients that he does wish upon himself. The doctors during the holocaust, were running tests that were very painfull and sometimes deadly upon people who didnt need or want it which is against the oath that they took when they became doctors. This passage is irony because some of the bullets that are being made by the prisoners were used by the SS in the camp who killed many people by shooting them with bullets. So the people making the bullets were providing the SS with the power to kill many people. Sometimes they might be faimly or friends. "You're a little boy, and we have to do it so it grows with you. Whenever you look at the number you'll always think of me. This is to show the people that it doesn't hurt and you don't have to be frightened. It's for a safety reason, in case you people get lost." This passage is irony because when the people were given the numbers they were labeled which took away the person they were and changed them into a number. Which is frighting in an of it self but the numbers were also a way to keep these prisoners locked inside the concetration camps which provided them a life time of beening frightened and hurt inside. This memory of Elie Wiesel is an example of irony because the people had used charity to cause pain to other people. Throwing the coins at children that would fight for them and calling it "charity" gives it a twisted, darker meaning. These people were not achieving benevolent acts by any means, they had only managed to cause violence and bloodshed. This picture was from an electric fence in Auschwitz that had a sign reading "danger" as shown in the picture. This only applied to the fence itself not way lay inside. Given the knowledge we now possess about the Holocaust it's not suprising if the Jewish in this concentration camp would have gladly taken the "danger" this fence contained over the dangers within the camp. This lovely scenery is a picture of the gas chambers in Auschwitz. The irony lay in the fact that this peacful looking house surrounded by trees and other vagatation seem to act as a guise to the true demon lurking beneath where many Jewish people met their deaths. This picture was taken at the Belzec concentration camp. Just after this picture of an older woman was taken she was executed. This fragile woman was not spared the cruel fate most people suffered at these concentration camps. She was killed based about what she practiced or nationality nothing more, all the kind acts she may have done would never have changed that. The police are usually viewed as the people who bring justice and criminals to their just fates. These police however were corrupted by Hitler and his all consuming views and had begun to torture the innoncent Jewish people and the others that were the Nazi's targets. The police no longer brought justice, they had begun to bring unjust pain and suffering to many people just like this man in the picture. Wiesel, Elie.Night. NewYork: Bantam
Books,1986. Print. "Witnesses to a nightmare." People Weekly 24 June 1985: 65+. Student Resource Center - Bronze. Web. 11 Dec. 2010.http://find.galegroup.com/gps/retrieve.do?subjectParam=&sort=DateDescend&tabID=T003&sgCurrentPosition=&subjectAction=&prodId=IPS&searchId=R5&docId=A3827311&currentPosition=9&bucketSubId=&userGroupName=hhslibrary&docLevel=&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&sgHitCountType=None&qrySerId=Locale%28en%2C%2C%29%3AFQE%3D%28SU%2CNone%2C21%29%22holocaust+survivors%22%3AAnd%3ALQE%3D%28LV%2CNone%2C41%29%22Holocaust+Survivors%7Cholocaust+Survivors%22%3AAnd%3ALQE%3D%28LD%2CNone%2C41%29%22Holocaust+Survivors_personal+Narratives%22%24&inPS=true&searchType=BasicSearchForm&nav=next Works Cited: Symbolism: Irony: "Night Symbolism, Imagery & Allegory." Shmoop:
Study Guides & Teacher Resources. N.p., n.d.
Web. 9 Dec. 2010.
<http://www.shmoop.com/night/symbolism-
imagery.html>. n/a. Constellation. N.d. n/a, n/a. The
Stencil. Web. 12 Dec. 2010. n/a. Pile of Corpses. N.d. n/a, Germany.
Holocaust History. Web. 10 Dec. 2010. n/a. Clouds of Smoke From Oil Blaze. 2010. n/a,
Bonaire, Netherlands . Bits Are Cheap. Web. 12
Dec. 2010. Pfefferberg, Prof. Leopold. A Woman about to Be Executed in Belzec Concentration Camp. Digital image. About.com. USHMM Photo Archives. Web. 13 Dec. 2010.
Unknown. A Sign on the Electric Fence in Auschwitz. Digital image. About.com. USHMM Photo Archives, Jan. 1945. Web. 13 Dec. 2010. <http://history1900s.about.com/library/holocaust/blauschwitz20.htm>.
Unknown. Gas Chamber in Auschwitz I. Digital image. About.com. USHMM Photo Archives, Apr. 1945. Web. 13 Dec. 2010. <http://history1900s.about.com/library/holocaust/blauschwitz28.htm>.
Unknown. Rzeszow, Poland, German Policemen Tormenting a Jew" Digital image. Www.wikipedia.com. Yad Vashem, 9 May 2007. Web. 13 Dec. 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:GermanPoliceTormentingJew.JPG#filehistory>.
Menkel, Irma Sonnenberg."I Saw Anne Frank die." Newsweek 21 July 1997: 16. Student Resource Center - Bronze. Web. 11 Dec. 2010.
http://find.galegroup.com/gps/retrieve.do?subjectParam=&sort=DateDescend&tabID=T003&sgCurrentPosition=&subjectAction=&prodId=IPS&searchId=R5&docId=A19581902&currentPosition=8&bucketSubId=&userGroupName=hhslibrary&docLevel=&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&sgHitCountType=None&qrySerId=Locale%28en%2C%2C%29%3AFQE%3D%28SU%2CNone%2C21%29%22holocaust+survivors%22%3AAnd%3ALQE%3D%28LV%2CNone%2C41%29%22Holocaust+Survivors%7Cholocaust+Survivors%22%3AAnd%3ALQE%3D%28LD%2CNone%2C41%29%22Holocaust+Survivors_personal+Narratives%22%24&inPS=true&searchType=BasicSearchForm&nav=next
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