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Author Elie Wiesel
Type of work Literary memoir
Genre World War II and Holocaust autobiography
Language Wiesel first wrote an 800-page
text in Yiddish titled Un di Velt Hot Geshvign (And
the World Remained Silent). The work later evolved into
the much-shorter French publication La Nuit, which
was then translated into English as Night.
Time and place written Mid-1950s, Paris. Wiesel began
writing after a ten-year self-imposed vow of silence about the Holocaust.
Date of first publication
Un di Velt Hot Geshvign was first
published in 1956 in Buenos Aires. La
Nuit was published in France in 1958,
and the English translation was published in 1960.
Publisher Unión Central Israelita Polaca (in Buenos Aires); Les
Editions de Minuit (in France); Hill & Wang (in the United States)
Narrator Eliezer (a slightly fictionalized version of Elie Wiesel)
Point of view Eliezer speaks in the first person and always relates
the autobiographical events from his perspective.
Tone Eliezer’s perspective is limited to his own experience,
and the tone of Night is therefore intensely personal,
subjective, and intimate. Night is not meant to
be an all-encompassing discourse on the experience of the Holocaust;
instead, it depicts the extraordinarily personal and painful experiences
of a single victim.
Setting (time) 1941–1945,
during World War II
Settings (place) Eliezer’s story begins in Sighet, Transylvania (now
part of Romania; during Wiesel’s childhood, part of Hungary). The book
then follows his journey through several concentration camps in
Europe: Auschwitz/Birkenau (in a part of modern-day Poland that
had been annexed by Germany in 1939), Buna
(a camp that was part of the Auschwitz complex), Gleiwitz (also
in Poland but annexed by Germany), and Buchenwald (Germany).
Major conflict Eliezer’s struggles with Nazi persecution, and with
his own faith in God and in humanity
Rising action Eliezer’s journey through the various concentration
camps and the subsequent deterioration of his father and himself
Climax The death of Eliezer’s father
Falling action The liberation of the concentration camps, the time
spent in silence between Eliezer’s liberation and Elie Wiesel’s
decision to write about his experience, referred to in the memoir
when Eliezer jumps ahead to events that happened after the Holocaust
Themes Eliezer’s struggle to maintain faith in a benevolent
God; silence; inhumanity toward other humans; the importance of father-son
Motifs Tradition, religious observance
Symbols Night, fire
Night does not operate like a novel,
using foreshadowing to hint at surprises to come. The pall of tragedy
hangs over the entire novel, however. Even as early as the work’s
dedication, “In memory of my parents and my little sister, Tzipora,”
Wiesel makes it evident that Eliezer will be the only significant
character in the book who survives the war. As readers, we are not surprised
by their inevitable deaths; instead, Wiesel’s narrative shocks and
stuns us with the details of the cruelty that the prisoners experience.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Night!