Night Elie Wiesel Essay Dehumanization

Dehumanization of the Jewish People in Night Essay example

786 WordsJul 17th, 20084 Pages

Dehumanization of the Jewish People in Night In Elie Wiesel’s Night, imagery is employed to show the dehumanization of the Jewish people by the Nazis as the Jews develop the “survival of the fittest” mentality, and as Eliezer looses the ability to express emotions. Wiesel uses imagery of the Jews’ “survival of the fittest” mentality to show the dehumanization of the Jews who are forced to endure treacherous conditions in the concentration camps. The enslaved Jews experience the worst forms of inhumane treatment. Pushed beyond their ability to deal with the oppressing starvation, cold, disease, exhaustion, and cruelty, the Jews lose their sanity and morality. Thus, Wiesel refers to the Jews as, “wild beasts of prey with animal hatred…show more content…

This supreme act of selfishness, as said before, can only be accredited to the dehumanization from the Nazis, rather than the naïve young boy. Even though it is inhumane, this selfish behavior seems to be the only way to survive when confronted with such extreme conditions that the Jews were made to endure.
Wiesel also uses imagery, of Eliezer loosing the ability to express emotion, to show the dehumanization of Eliezer and the other Jews who are led to undergo drastic emotional changes. Unfortunately, the Jews suffer tremendous difficulties in the concentration camps. The torture that the enslaved Jews experience has obvious physical effects, but it also has mental changes on them. The events that have taken place at the concentration camps has shaken Eliezer so much, that at the sight of his stricken father, he replies, “My father had just been struck, before my eyes, and I had not flickered an eyelid. I had looked on and said nothing.” (Pg. 37 old book) After the Kapo beats his father to the ground for asking permission to use the bathroom, Elieizer is surprised at himself because he is incapable of doing so much as lifting a finger or saying anything in his father's defense. Like the other Jews, he is dehumanized with his main concern becoming self-preservation. Thus, Eliezer looses his compassion for others, including his father. When his father dies due to dysentery, Eliezer states, “I did not weep and it pained me that I could not weep.

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Dehumanization

       Throughout Night, dehumanization  consistently took place as the tyrant Nazis oppressed the Jewish citizens.  The Nazis targeted the Jews' humanity, and slowly dissolved their feeling of being human. This loss of humanity led to a weakened will in the Holocaust victims, and essentially led to death in many.  The Nazis had an abundance of practices to dehumanize the Jews including beatings, starvation, theft of possessions, separation of families, crude murders, forced labor, and much more. There is no greater loss than that of humanity, so one can never truly relate to the horrors of dehumanization the Jews faced. In the list below, I will compile various examples that correlate to this theme of dehumanization. 

  • “There no longer was any distinction between rich and poor, notables and the others; we were all people condemned to the same fate-still unknown.” (pg. 21)
  • “Once again, the young men bound and gagged her. When they actually struck her, people shouted their approval.” (pg. 26)
  • “For us it meant true equality: nakedness. We trembled in the cold.” (pg. 35)
  • “We were incapable of thinking. Our senses numbed, everything was fading into a fog. We no longer clung to anything.” (pg. 36)
  • “The Kapos were beating us again, I no longer felt the pain.” (pg. 36)
  • “In a few seconds, we had ceased to be men. Had the situation not been so tragic, we might have laughed. We looked pretty strange!” (pg. 36)
  • “I became A-7713. From then on, I had no other name.” (pg. 42)
  • “At that moment in time, all that mattered to me was my daily bowl of soup, my crust of stale bread. The bread, the soup- those were my entire life. I was nothing but a body. Perhaps even less: a famished stomach. The stomach alone was measuring time.” (pg. 52)
  • “I had watched it all happening without moving. I kept silent. In fact, I thought of stealing away in order not to suffer the blows. What’s more, if I felt anger at that moment, it was not directed at the Kapo but at my father. Why couldn't he have avoided Idek’s wrath? That was what life in a concentration camp had made of me…” (pg. 54)
  • “We didn't know what to do. Tired of huddling on the ground, in hope of finding something, a piece of bread, perhaps, that a civilian might have forgotten there.” (pg. 56)
  • “Now I understood why Idek refused to leave us in the camp. He moved one hundred prisoners so that he could copulate with this girl! It struck me as terribly funny and I burst out laughing.” (pg. 57)
  • “I no longer felt anything except the lashes of the whip… Only the first really hurt.” (pg. 57)
  • “Two cauldrons of soup! Smack in the middle of the road, two cauldrons of soup with no one to guard them! A royal feast going to waste! Supreme temptation! Hundreds of eyes were looking at them, shining with desire. Two lambs with hundreds of wolves lying in wait for them. Two lambs without a shepherd, free for the taking. But who would dare?” (pg. 59)
  • “Fear was greater than hunger.” (pg. 59)
  • “A man appeared, crawling snakelike in the direction of the cauldrons. Hundreds of eyes were watching his every move. Hundreds of men were crawling with him, scraping their bodies with his on the stones. All hearts trembled, but mostly with envy. He was the one who had dared.” (pg. 59)
  • “Jealousy devoured us, consumed us. We never thought to admire him. Poor hero committing suicide for a ration or two more of soup… In our minds, he was already dead.” (pg. 59)
  • “I heard the pounding of my heart. The thousands of people who died daily in Auschwitz and Birkenau, in the crematoria, no longer troubled me.” (pg. 62)
  • “I watched other hangings. I never saw a single victim weep. These withered bodies had long forgotten the bitter taste of tears.” (pg. 63)
  • “All the block inmates stood naked between the rows of bunks. This must be how one stands for the Last Judgement.” (pg. 71)
  • “Those whose numbers had been noted were standing apart, abandoned by the whole world. Some were silently weeping.” (pg. 72)
  • “I couldn't help thinking that there were two of us: my body and I. And I hated that body.” (pg. 85)
  • “The idea of dying, ceasing to be, began to fascinate me. To no longer exist. To no longer feel the excruciating pain of my foot. To no longer feel anything, neither fatigue nor cold, nothing. To break rank, to let myself slide to the side of the road…” (pg. 86)
  • “We were the masters of nature, the masters of the world. We had transcended everything-death, fatigue, our natural needs. We were stronger than cold and hunger, stronger than the guns and the desire to die, doomed and rootless, nothing but numbers.” (pg. 87)
  • “In the early dawn light, I tried to distinguish between the living and those who were no more. But there was barely a difference.” (pg. 98)
  • “One day when we had come to a stop, a worker took a piece of bread out of his bag and threw it into a wagon. There was a stampede. Dozens of starving men fought desperately over a few crumbs. The worker watched the spectacle with great interest.” (pg. 100)
  • “In the wagon where the bread had landed, a battle had ensued. Men were hurling themselves against each other, trampling, tearing at and mauling each other.” (pg. 101)
  • “I saw, not far from me, an old man dragging himself on all fours. He had just detached himself from the struggling mob. He was holding one hand to his heart. At first I thought he had received a blow to his chest. Then I understood: he was hiding a piece of bread under his shirt. With lightning speed he pulled it out and put it to his mouth. His eyes lit up, a smile, like a grimace, illuminated his ashen face. And was immediately extinguished. A shadow had lain down beside him. And this shadow threw itself over him. Stunned by the blows, the old man was crying: ‘Meir, my little Meir! Don't you recognize me…You're killing your father… I have bread…for you too… for you too…’ He collapsed. But his fist was still clutching a small crust. He wanted to raise it to his mouth. But the other threw himself on him. The old man mumbled something, groaned, and died. Nobody cared. His son searched him, took the crust of bread, and began to devour it. He didn't get far. Two men had been watching him. They jumped him. Others joined in. When they withdrew, there were two dead bodies next to me, the father and the son.” Page 101
  • “The idea of a hot shower fascinated me.” (pg. 104)
  • “Our first act as free men was to throw ourselves onto the provisions. That’s all we thought about. No thought of revenge, or of our parents. Only of bread. And even when we were no longer hungry, not one of us thought of revenge.” (pg. 115)

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