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Sticky Notes and Literary Signposts Examples ~ NIGHT

Ken C

on 7 January 2014

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Transcript of OPEN RESPONSE

Doing it the right way from the start!
Stated directly in the text; a fact you can point out in the text.

In Ch. 1,

Elie and family miss three escape chances:
a.) could have emigrated to Palestine but Dad says no (8-9);
b.) Hungarian police friend knocking on boarded-up window outside ghetto (Wiesels failed to open on time) (14); and c.) former maid, Maria, offers safe shelter at her village (20) but Mr. Wiesel declines.
Example #2
INFERENTIAL -- Not stated directly in text, but there is evidence for it there because it is hinted at, suggested, or implied.

Elie's father is a conservative man unwilling to take risks. He prefers that Elie not get involved in Jewish mysticism; he values his role as respected citizen in Sighet as much as he does as family man; he cannot imagine uprooting his family for Palestine or the indignity of hiding like criminals in a safe shelter -- even though he sees danger in the Nazi occupation of Hungary. Aversion to risk is part of his character.
Critical -- It's all you, the reader, as in your thoughts, opinions, connections, or critical questions related to the text.

Why would Mr. Wiesel pass on repeated opportunities to save himself and his family -- before it's too late? It appears selfish and foolhardy, but from his viewpoint, understandable. As town leader and patriarch of the family, he wants to show strength and hope. He doesn't want to panic or flee. What kind of leader flees? On the other hand, it's war and all ordinary rules are out the window. Easy for me to say, as I know what happened; less so for people in the moment like the Wiesels. Still, you can't help but wonder, "What if...?"
Language Note (LN)
Most people thought that we would remain in the ghetto until the end of the war, until the arrival of the Red Army. Afterrward everything would be as before. The ghetto was ruled by neither German nor Jew; it was ruled by delusion."

Great writing here. I love the parallel structure ("neither German nor Jew") and the personification especially ("it was ruled by delusion").

Delusion is a self-protection device people use when under stress. If they don't believe it's true, maybe it won't be! Seems crazy -- unless you're one of the ones under pressure, of course.
Conflict Note (CON)
External Conflict: Character vs. Society

"Jews, listen to me! That's all I ask of you. No money. No pity. Just listen to me!" [Moishe] kept shouting in the synagogue, between the prayer at dusk and the evening prayer.

Even I did not listen to him. I often sat with him, after services, and listened to his tales, trying to understand his grief. But all I felt was pity.

"They think I'm mad," he whispered. (7)

Can you imagine if no one -- and I mean NO ONE -- in your school or town believed a word you said, especially if your intent was to save them from impending disaster? Talk about conflict! Moishe wants to save his people but, due to fear and delusion, they decide to write him off as mad. Standing by idly, ignoring Moishe's legitimate warnings, proves disastrous for the Jews of Sighet.
Say "What?" (SW)
"Anguish. German soldiers -- with their steel helmets and their death's head emblem." (9)

What is the "death head emblem" on a German soldier's helmet?

I picture a skeleton... something like the Jolly Roger on pirate flags. I searched Google for SS helmet emblems. Result...
SS Emblem on Helmet
Literary Signpost for Ch. 1:
Notice & Note Packet
QUOTE: "The synagogue resembled a large railroad station: baggage and tears. The altar was shattered, the wall coverings shredded, the walls themselves bare. There were so many of us, we could hardly breathe. The twenty-four hours we spent there were horrendous. The men were downstairs, the women upstairs. It was Saturday -- the Sabbath -- and it was as though we were there to attend services. Forbidden to go outside, people relieved themselves in a corner." (22)

COMMENTARY: Here Wiesel uses CONTRASTS & CONTRADICTIONS. For one, the metaphor is a telling commentary on the Holocaust. That a place of worship (synagogue) would be compared to a railroad station works on both literal and figurative levels. The Jews were transported to concentration & death camps in cattle cars and railroads and stations were integral to their mass deportations. It is also a shocking contrast to visualize any holy place in this condition. It effectively demonstrates how Judaism -- an entire faith -- was under siege during the Nazi regime's rule.
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