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Rhetorical Analysis of "Night"
Transcript of Rhetorical Analysis of "Night"
1. Device: Simile
Quote: “It was like a page torn from some story book” (13).
Explanation: This quote gives the reader a sense of incredulity and detachment from reality. The author feels detached and distant from the action going on around him, as if it were fictional or ancient history in a distant land. This gives the reader the sense of disbelief that the author was feeling, like an outsider looking in.
Quote: “It was neither German nor Jew who ruled the ghetto – it was illusion” (9).
Explanation: This quote shows how optimistic the residents’ beliefs were, and how these beliefs persistently denied reality. The metaphor adds impact to the statement, and makes the situation seem outside the realm of human control.
Quote: “There was joy – yes, joy. Perhaps they thought that God could have devised no torment in hell worse than that of sitting there among the bundles, in the middle of the road, beneath a blazing sun; that anything would be preferable to that" (13).
Explanation; This is ironic because they rejoice at the arrival of a train that is going to take them away to what will be the worse time of their lives. Some will not return. The train is taking them away to torture. Yet they do not know this, and they rejoice to escape the immediate situation.
Quote: “He explained to me with great insistence that every question possessed a power that did not lie in the answer” (2).
Explanation: This makes the idea of a question more concrete, and the action ‘possessed’ makes it seem full of possibilities and power. It is more effective than simply stating 'every question can cause people to think in a powerful way, even if if it does not lie in the answer.' This causes the question to seem like an embodiment of force.
Quote: “We looked at the flames in the darkness. There was an abominable odor floating in the air… Some odd-looking characters, dressed in striped shirts and black trousers leapt into the wagon” (24).
Explanation: The tone of this passage is disgust. This is evidenced in the words ‘abominable’ and the description of the people as ‘odd-looking’. This is meant to instill in the reader a sense of hatred.
Quote: “Fire! I can see fire! I can see fire!” (21).
Explanation: Madame Schachter foreshadows the fate of many on the train car, when she screams this in a delusional state.
Quote: “Standing in the middle of the wagon, in the pale light from the windows, she looked like a withered tree in a corn field” (21).
Explanation: This gives the reader the distinct image of how sickly, parched and weak Madame Schachter must have looked.
Quote: “From this moment, you come under the authority of the German army… Anyone who is later found to have kept anything will be shot on the spot” (20).
Explanation: This authoritative, aggressive, and official-sounding statement applies to the reader’s credibility, giving him or her a sense of real authority that the speaker must have carried.
Quote: "Do you see that chimney over there? See it? Do you see those flames? (Yes, we did see the flames.) Over there - that's where you're going to be taken. That's your grave, over there. haven't you realized it yet?" (29).
Explanation: These short sentences give the reader a sense of hysteria. The repeated questions (See it?) also give the impression that the speaker is frustrated and upset.
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/detachment/ (Accessed 4-22-2014 at 7:32 p.m.)
The above photo is a visual representation of detachment and incredulity.
http://www.colipera.com/delusional-optimism/ (Accessed 4/22/14 at 7:44 P.M.)
This photo, not intended to make light of the situation, is a cartoon depicting optimism that denies reality.
http://www.incredibleart.org/gallery/W/Waiting-In-Anticipation-by-Alexander-Hohenlohe-Burr.html (Accessed 4/22/14 at 7:52 P.M.)
The painting is titled “Waiting in Anticipation” which describes the feeling the Jews shared, even though what happens next is torture.
http://www.gijobs.com/power-questions-you-should-ask.aspx (Accessed 4/22/14 at 8:00 P.M.)
Quote: "A second man came up, spitting oath at us" (29).
Explanation:This word choice, especially the strong word of 'spitting' gives the reader an impression of intensity and anger, and of course a visual interpretation of the speaker literally 'spitting' the words.
Quote: "Someone began to recite the Kaddish, the prayer for the dead. I do not know if it has ever been done before, in the long history of the Jews, that people have ever recited the prayer for the dead for themselves" (31).
Explanation: Saying the prayer for the dead to themselves whilst still living is an obvious allegory for resignation. It also shows the reader how dedicated they were to their religion, even during death.
Quote: "That night the soup tasted of corpses" (57).
Explanation: The foul taste is symbolic of the evil (the hanging of a young boy) that had been committed. Even though the author took no part in the murder, he still bared the burden of the taking of innocent life.
Quote: "Bread, soup - these were my whole life" (47).
Explanation: Because the prisoners were in constant hunger, food was their obsession. therefore, their hunger, and thus food, becomes a motif. Bread and soup stands for sustenance, and making it through to the next day until liberation.
Quote: "A German employee, a civilian, the
came to see us. He paid us about as much attention as a dealer might who was just receiving a delivery of old rags" (45).
Explanation: This appeals to the readers' emotions because it invokes a sense of pity- imagining that a human being could be as despised as dirty rags.
Quote: "The camp looked as though it had suffered an epidemic: empty and dead" (43).
Explanation: The creates a dismal mood for the reader, by invoking the image of a gray, lifeless, abandoned camp.
Quote: "In every fiber I rebelled" (61).
Explanation: This gives the reader a mental picture of total and complete hatred, so much so that it involves the cells a body is made of.
Quote: "How could I say to him "Blessed art Thou, Eternal, Master of the Universe, who chose us from among the races to be tortured day and night, to see our fathers, our mothers, our brothers, end in the crematory?"" (62).
Explanation: This hypothetical dialogue is structured in such a way that it reminds the reader of a Jewish prayer. It relates the reader back to why the prisoners were there in the first place, and demonstrates the mental anguish the author is suffering about worshiping a God that would dare let them suffer like this.
Quote: "Death wrapped itself and me till I was stifled. It stuck to me" (78).
Explanation: This makes the reader understand not only the mental anguish of the reader, but also the physical pain with such words as 'wrapped' and 'stifled'.
Quote: "We were no longer marching. We were running like automatons" (79).
Explanation: By comparing their movements to that of a machine, the author elicits the idea of a mindless, rhythmic, repetitive motion. The prisoners could not stop to think, they had to focus on running, and running only.
Quote: "His eyes were petrified, his lips withered, decayed. Everything about him bore witness to extreme exhaustion" (79).
Explanation: This passage leaves the reader with a very strong mental image, one of wrinkly, sickly, grey exhaustion. The adjectives not usually used to describe humans aid with these descriptions.
Quote: "He had lost his son in the crowd. He had looked in vain among the dying. Then he had scratched up the snow to find his corpse. Without result."
Explanation: The short sentences with similar structure give the reader a sense of fatigue, and mindless motions, as if searching for your dead son is a task on an assembly line.
Quote: "The days were like nights, the nights left the dregs of their darkness in our souls" (88).
Explanation: Describing the days as if they were like nights explains to the reader the darkness, chill, and general despair of being in the cattle car.
http://www.chuckbauman.com/real-flames-photos.htm (Accessed 4/22/14 at 8:12 P.M.)
The above image is a picture of flames, first delusional, then reality.
http://snowbrains.com/my-third-darwin-award-fire-on-the-water/ (Accessed 4/23/14, at 9:14 P.M.)
(Accessed 4/23/14 at 9:16 P.M.)
This withered tree is a good basis of comparison for Madame Schachter.
The gavel is the ultimate symbol of authority
(Accessed 4/23/14, at 9:25 P.M.)
http://www.ashleyberges.com/how-to-make-anger-work-for-you-now/ (Accessed 4/23/14 at 9:30 P.M.)
A level of anger that can induce spitting
Quote "You must never lose faith, even when the sword hangs over your head. That's the teaching of our sages" (30).
Explanation: This is an allusion to many Jewish texts and stories, including the story of Solomon. This reminds the reader of the importance of their stories and traditions, culturally.
(Accessed 4/23/14. at 9:36 P.M.)
(Accessed 4/23/14, at 9:40 P.M.)
http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/tools-and-techniques/soup-tips.htm (Accessed 4/ 23/14 at 9:47 P.M.)
Quote: "How well they were treating me! Like an orphan!"
Explanation: This gives the reader the sense of pity and sympathy the author was receiving when his dad was sent back for another examination, (sure death, if deemed unfit). This description makes it easy for the reader to picture sad looks of sympathy and comforting words. It also rings true because the author
have been an orphan, had his father died then.
(Accessed 4/23/14, at 9:53 P.M.)
(Accessed 4/23/14, at 9::57 P.M.)
(Accessed 4/23/14, at 9:59 P.M.)
Quote: "My head was spinning" (65).
Explanation: This quote gives the reader the sense of confusion and delirium the author must have been experiencing. It is described, however, as if it were a physical ailment.
Quote: "The night was long and never ending" (87).
Explanation: This gives the reader a sense of what it felt like to endure the problems of the night for so long, waiting for day. Even the night was not, indeed, never ending, describing it as never ending elicits in the reader a sense of the excruciating agony it brought.
Quote: "My father took his arm. And Meir Katz, the strong man, the most robust of us all, wept" (90).
Explanation: This particular passage elicits a very strong image for the reader, because everybody knows someone who is never scared, fazed, and will make it all better. And the break down of that source of strength is a very scary and powerful image.
Quote: "When they withdrew, next to me were two corpses, side by side, the father and the son. I was fifteen years old" (89).
Explanation: The author uses syntax in a very specific way in the passage. Saying "I was fifteen years old" after describing and atrocious eventreminds the readers of all the awful things the author has lived through, witnessed, experienced. And he wasn't even an adult!
Quote: "I felt that I was not arguing with him, but with death itself, with the death that he had already chosen" (93).
Explanation: This metaphor does two things for the readers. First, it shows how hard it was to negotiate with his father (because obviously death will not debate). Secondly, it shows how resigned his father was, and how close to the cusp of death he was.
Quote: "Like a wild beast, I cleared a way for myself to the coffee cauldron" (93).
Explanation: By comparing himself to a wild beast, the author elicits an image of using primal, non-restrained aggression and physical force to get to the coffee.
Quote: "I can't go on . . . This is the end . . . I'm going to die here . . ." (92)
Explanation: The syntax of the ellipses force the reader to pause. This gives the reader a sense of the labor and agony it took to speak these words.
Quote: "Oh, to strangle the doctor and the others! To burn the whole world! My Father's murderers! But the cry stayed in my throat.
Explanation: The use of imagery is clear here, with strong words like 'strangle,' 'burn,' and 'murderers'. This imagery gives the reader a clear picture of the intensity of the hate and helplessness the author was feeling.
Quote: "On April ninth, the wheel of history turned" (98).
Explanation: This invokes in the reader an image of, obviously, the wheel of history. Moreover, this sentence also signals that something big is about to happen.
Quote: "We had eaten nothing for six days, except a bit of grass or some potato peelings found near the kitchen" (98).
Explanation: This passage has very strong imagery, because every human can relate to the feeling of intense hunger. It is unlikely, however, that we have ever been forced to eat grass, or trash. Therefore, this invokes an image of a hunger beyond our understanding.
Quote: "From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me. The look in his eyes, as they stared into mine, has never left me" (99).
Explanation: This leaves the reader with a very dark and dismal mood. This is because this story is a true story, and Elie Wiesel still lives. And he has been permanently scarred, along with many others, and many generations.
(Accessed 4/24/14, at 7:39 A.M.)
A famous orphan
http://simpleluxuryliving.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/im-so-dizzy-my-head-is-spinning/ (Accessed 4/24/14 at 7:43 A.M.)
http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/wellcome-trust-and-mrc-invest-in-world-class-stem-cell-institute-at-cambridge (Accessed 4/24/14 at 4:56 P.M.)
http://issacharinitiative.org/the-issachar-initiative-and-the-necessity-of-prayer/ (Accessed 4/24/24 at 5:03 P.M.)
http://www.thepartyworks.com/22-mossy-celtic-cross-tombstone (Accessed 4/24/14 at 5:10 P.M.)
The omnipresent death, most were not so lucky as to get a tombstone.
(Accessed 4/24/14 at 5:15 P.M.)
http://lidusha.deviantart.com/art/Withered-Flower-171160564 (Accessed 4/24/14 at 5:20 P.M.)
Withered and decayed are words more often used in the context of plants.
(Accessed 4/24/24, at 8:37 P.M.)
(Accessed at 4/24/24 at 8:42 P.M.
The night sky
(Accessed 4/24/14 at 8:46 P.M.)
The night sky
(Accessed 4/24/24 at 8:52 P.M.)
How would we feel if superman wept?
(Accessed 4/24/14 at 8:57 P.M.)
Elie Wiesel, as a young man
(Accessed 4/24/14 at 9:03 P.M.)
Death is non-negotiable.
http://charlestoncoffeeexchange.com/friends/ (Accessed 4/24/14 at 9:11 P.M)
(Accessed 4/24/14, at 9:16 P.M.)
(Accessed 4/24/14 at 9:24 P.M.)
The author's imaginary fire.
(Accessed 4/24/14, at 9:34 P.M.)
http://absolutepestco.com/2013/06/16/grass-green-tips-to-keep-your-grass-green/ (Accessed 4/24/14, at 9:39 P.M.)
It is rare that we ever turn to grass for nutrients.
(Accessed 4/24/14, at 9:4 P.M.)
Quote: "From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me" (99).
Explanation: Though in a physical sense, the author did lose some life in his eyes, the corpse-like look is also symbolic for the irreparable damage done unto him.
(Accessed 4/24/14, at 9:53 P.M.)
Terms and Definitions
Simile: A figure of speech in which two unlike items are compared using the words "like," or "as"
Metaphor: A figure of speech in which a term is applied to something to which it is not readily applicable in order to suggest a resemblance.
Foreshadowing: To show or indicate beforehand.
Personification: The attribution of human nature or character to non-human items.
Imagery: The formation of mental images, figures, or likeness of things.
Irony: The use of words to convey a meaning that is opposite of its literal meaning.
Ethos: The moral element in dramatic literature that determines the character's actions.
Tone: The author's attitude toward the subject
Terms and Definitions
Syntax: The study of the rules for the grammatical formation of a sentence in a language.
Diction: Style of speaking or writing as dependent upon choice of words.
Allusion: The act or practice of making an indirect or casual reference to something
Allegory: The representation of an abstract or spiritual meaning through concrete or material forms
Symbolism: The practice of using something regarded or representing something else.
Motif: A recurring object, theme, or idea
Pathos: The quality of invoking pity or emotion.
Mood: Feelings reader gets from a particular passage of literature.
One ongoing theme throughout the novel
is the idea of a loss of faith. At the beginning, Elie Wiesel is clearly described as very religious. On page one, he asks his father for a guide in his studies of the caballa, and on page two is described as weeping during daily prayer. Later, after being taken to Auschwitz, Wiesel considers killing himself, and just before starting to run into some electric wire prays "Yitgadal veyitkadach shme raba. . . . May his name be blessed and magnified" (32). Yet as hardships continue, Wiesel's faith, like so many others, starts to falter. When he witnesses the hanging of a young boy someone behind him asks a question. "Where is God Now?" (57). He responds by thinking "And I heard a voice within me answer him. "Where is He? Here He is- He is hanging here on this gallows" (57). Wiesel's spiritual struggle grows more intense in Chapter five, on the last day of the Jewish calendar year. Wiesel questions the presence of God, what His greatness means, why he should bless Him, and later proclaims that man is stronger than God.
Wiesel expresses his spiritual resignation saying "This day I had ceased to plead. I was no longer capable of lamentation. On the contrary, I felt very strong. I was the accuser, God the accused. . . I had ceased to be anything but ashes, yet I felt myself to be stronger than the almighty to whom my life had been tied to for so long" (62). On page 63, Wiesel does not participate in the fasting associated with Yom Kippur, part out of necessity, part out of defiance. It is at this time that his struggle with God is most evident, (Israel even means 'struggle with God'). Though it is unclear whether or not Wiesel abandoned his faith in this book, he has said after its publication that he still believes in God, but is still angry (http://www.stsci.edu/~rdouglas/publications/suff/suff.html). Thus, his faith and beliefs endured unimaginable struggles, but not without serious consideration, questioning, and despair.