English 2201
Chapter Discussion and Notes
Chapter 1
Pages 3-23
Elie Wiesel’s home
in Sighet, Poland.
Chapter 1 continued
 Setting: the time and
place where a text
takes place. *Often
setting is an important
aspect of a text.
 Sighet - a town in
northern Romania near
the meeting of the
Hungarian and
Ukrainian borders.
Chapter 1
 Focuses on
 Talmud – A sacred
characterization of Elie,
especially his strong
sense of faith.
 “I was almost thirteen
and deeply observant.
By day I studied the
Talmud and by night I
would run to the
synagogue to weep over
the destruction of the
Temple” p. 3
scripture in Judaism.
 Moishe the Beadle –
Elie’s spiritual leader.
- Highly regarded in the
 Moishe serves an
important function in the
novel’s beginning:
Prophet of what is to
come. (See pg. 6-7)
Chapter 1 continued
 Elie’s Family:
 Mother and Father own a store
 Father’s description as “unsentimental” and
caring for welfare of others over his kin – p. 4
 Hilda – eldest, Bea, Elie, and Tzipora
Chapter 1 continued
 Moshie’s return is towards the end of 1942.
 Life still seems normal at this time
 1943 – described as an encouraging year (p. 8)
 Elie is still studying
 Spring 1944 – good news from Russian front
 Elie, one of Moishe’s only believers, asked his
father to liquidate and leave
 Things change – p. 9
Chapter 1 continued
 The rapidity of the onset of Nazi troops p. 9
 Creation of ghetto’s p. 11
 Laws against Jews p. 11
 The yellow star p. 11
 “Transports” – p. 13
 P. 15 – preparing for the ‘journey’
 The unknown future
Chapter 1 continued
 “Our backyard looked like a marketplace” p.
Brutality - beating old women and men
Commands, Orders
“My father was crying” – p. 19
Transported to the ‘small ghetto’ p. 20
Mother’s faith – “we cannot give up”
Mood, and Tone – p. 21
Chapter 1 continued
 Pg. 21-22 – last supper as family,
which is somewhat similar to the last
supper with Jesus and his disciples.
 Vivid description, use of figurative
language abounds as Elie paints a
picture of their expulsion on page 22.
 Cattle Car dexcription p . 22
 Gestapo - was the official secret
police of Nazi Germany
Chapter 2
Pages 23-28
“The heat, the thrist, the
stench, the lack of air, were
suffocating us.” p. 26
Chapter 2
 Loss of human dignity
in the cattle cars
 Little food left
 Mrs. Schater – why is
she important?
 “Fire, I see Fire”
 “She is mad, poor
woman . . .” p. 25
“Work will set you free”
Chapter 2 continued
“In front of us,
those flames. In
the air, the
smell of burning
flesh. It must
have been
midnight. We
had arrived. In
Birkenau.” p.
Chapter 3
Pages 29 - 46
“The beloved
objects we had
carried with us
from place to
place were
now left
behind in the
wagon and,
with them,
finally, our
illusions.” p. 29
Chapter 3
 Chapter 3 begins, aptly, with Elie’s realization
that both the physical reality and mental
reality of the Holocaust had now set in for his
family: “The beloved objects that we had
carried with us from place to place were now
left behind in the wagon and, with them, our
illusions.” p. 29
 What were the illusions?
Chapter 3
 Elie and his father are
separated from his
Mother, Tzipora, Hilda,
and Bea.
 Why is it that Elie
chooses to name
Chapter 3
 Elie and his father are told
to change their age: 18(15)
and 40(50)
 Elie explains that his
family, even as of 1944, did
not know the horrors of
 Imagine if this happened
today? Think of Twitter,
Facebook. News did not
travel so fast in that time.
Now – news is instant.
 “We musn’t give up hope,
even now as the sword
hangs over our heads. So
taught our sages . . .” p. 31
 An emerging theme is that
of Hope, which is the fuel
that helps the Jews survive
(those lucky enough to be
 The horror of babies is
contrasted with childhood
– innocene
 At the onset, Elie is still
very innocent
Chapter 3
 On page 33, Elie’s first anger towards his deity
is expressed: “For the first time, I felt anger
rising within me. Why should I sanctify His
name? The Almighty, the eternal and terrible
Master of the Universe, chose to be silent.
What was there to thank Him for?
 What is your opinion?
 The feeling of death at your doorstep, every
second, every minute, every hour, every day.
Chapter 3
 “Do you remember Mrs. Schachter, in the
train?” Elie’s father, p. 34
 Note passage on page 34. Use of parallelism:
Parallelism means giving two or more parts of
the sentences a similar form so as to give the
whole a definite pattern.
The degradation of Jews continues as they face
life in the concentration camps.
Chapter 3
 Note Elie’s depiciton of how the Jews were
numbed into a state of non-existence:
 “The absent no longer . . .” p. 36
 On page 37 Elie reflects on his new state of
mind: “I too had become a different person.
The student of Talmud, the child I was, had
been consumed by the flames. All that was
left was a shape that resembled me. My soul
has been invaded-and devoured-by a black
flame.” p. 37
Chapter 3
Chapter 3
 Elie and his father are marched to Auschwitz,
having survived selection.
Note the passage on pg. 41
Is this false hope? Or, is that glimmer hope
part of the reason Elie survives?
A-7713 – “I became A-7713”
What’s in a name?
Identity lost? What are the consequences?
Chapter 3
 What is the importance of meeting their
relative Stein?
Should Elie have lied?
God’s test – pg. 45 – Akiba Drumer
Arriving in Buna.
At this point, what observations and or
questions do you have?
What themes come to mind?
Chapter 4
Pages 47-65
The largest Auschwitz sub-camp, called Buna,
was located here from 1942 to 1945. The
Nazis sent thousands of prisoners from
various countries, the majority of them
Jewish, to Buna (there were approximately
10,000 prisoners in this camp in 1944). A
significant proportion of them died because
of arduous slave labor, starvation, savage
mistreatment, and executions. Those who
were unable to go on working fell victim to
selection and were taken to their deaths in
the Birkenau concentration camp gas
Chapter 4
 “The camp looked as though it had been
through an epidemic: empty and dead.” p. 47
 “Buna is a very good camp. One can hold
one’s own here.” – Again, a sense of hope.
 Elie’s shoes – pg. 48: He wouldn’t give them
up, because “they were all [he] had left.”
However, he loses them for nothing in return.
Does this not illustrate so much of what
happens in the Holocaust.
Chapter 4
 Elie evades, luckily, the dentist who was
extracting gold teeth p. 52
Life in the Buna camp seems to be going well
Elie suffers the wrath of Idek – pg. 53
Isn’t the encounter with the young girl
When Elie’s father is beaten by Idek, what
does he feel?
Chapter 4
 Idek’s copulating results in a nasty episode of
brutality for Elie
 The man who went for the soup – bravey or
stupidity? Neccessity?
 The hanging of the young boy from Warsaw
held a particular significane for Elie, despite
all the horrors of the Holocaust he had
witnessed. Why?
 “I remember that on that evening, the soup
tasted better than ever . . .” p. 63
Chapter 4
 Loss of emotion – “I never saw a single victim
weep. These withered bodies had long
forgotten the bitter taste of tears.” p. 63
“The little pipel – the sad-eyed angel” – note
how Elie often describes victims as angels.
“Where is merciful God, where is He?”
“And from within me, I heard a voice answer:
Where He is? This is where – hanging here
from this gallows . . .”
“That night, the soup tasted of corpses” p.65
Chapter 4
 At this point in the novel, Elie has undergone
several important characters changes:
Elie’s faith has changed
Elie’s feelings towards his father have
Elie’s life is based on soup and bread, which
equals survival
He has, unfairly, come of age because of the
horrors of the Holocaust
 In Groups, Discuss the Following:
 Developing Themes in Night
 Conflicts in Night
 Symbolism in Night
 Elie’s use of Language
 Any questions that your group would like
answered: I.E. An aspect of the novel that
you do not understand.
Pages 66-84
“On the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the last day of that
cursed year, the entire camp was agitated and every
one of us felt the tension.” p. 66
Chapter 5
 Chapter 5 begins on the eve of Rosh
Hashanah, the last day of the Jewish year.
 Note how “last” is described by Elie: “The
word “last” had an odd ring to it. What if it
really were the last day?” p. 66
 Again, Elie and the Jewish people lived each
day as if it could be their last day. There is a
feeling of irony in these words.
Chapter 5
 The passage which begins: “What are You, my
God? I thought angrily. How do You compare to
this stricken mass gathered to affirm to You their
faith, their anger, their defiance? What does
your grandeur mean, Master of the Universe, in
the face of all this cowardice, this decay, and this
misery? Why do you go on troubling these poor
people’s wounded minds, their ailing bodies?” p.
 What do you make of this passage? Is Elie still
faithful? Is it important? How does it represent
the theme of faith in this memoir?
Chapter 5
 The question of God’s presence is questioned
again on pg. 67: Beginning with: “Why, but
why would I bless Him?”
 “And I, the former mystic, was thinking: Yes,
man is stronger, greater than God. When
Adam and Eve deceived You, You chased
them from paradise . . .” Elie uses several of
God’s greatest challengers in this passage,
why is it effective to state these ?
Chapter 5
 Elie’s faith is completely changed at this
stage in the novel. He notes that Rosh
Hashanah would normally have consumed
him, but now he is accusing God for the
misery of his people. “I was the accuser, God
the accused.” p. 68
 Elie and his father share ‘tears’ and he notes
that never before did they understand each
other so clearly.
Chapter 5
 Yom Kippur – a day of fasting
 We were fasting all year – “It was Yom Kippur
every day of the year”
 Elie is tired of God’s silence.
 Another ‘selection’ is to take place p. 70-71
 Dr. Mengle
Chapter 5
 The Bell is lamented by Elie: why? What does
it represent? Pg. 73
 Page 75 – Elie’s father is to stay behind for the
final, decisive selection – he gives Elie a knife
and spoon – what does this gift symbolize?
 This chapter really focuses the loss the Jewish
prisoner’s faith, of God’s mercy. It’s Elie’s
attempt to understand how God can stand by
and watch his people suffer.
Chapter 5
 Elie’s foot swells and he placed in the
 The threat of selection is eminent.
 The Advance of the Red Army – but Elie is not
encouraged by this ‘false hope.’ Note, this is
a drastic change from earlier when they
continuously believed in false hope.
 “I have more faith in Hitler than in anyone
else. He alone has kept his promises, all his
promises, to the Jewish people.” p. 81
Chapter 5
 The irony in leaving the infirmary, when he
would have been better to stay. Page 82
 The camp is to be evacuated, another
‘journey’ for Elie and his father.
 Note: Buna is being evacuated.
Points of Interest
 Theme Development:
 Conflict:
 Good vs. Evil
 Intrapersonal
 Survival
 Elie vs. himself/faith
 Faith on Trial
 External:
 Isolation
 Nazis vs. Jewish
 Silence
 Jewish vs. Nature
 Their struggle to
survive against its
Points of Interest
 Motif - is any recurring
element that has
symbolic significance
in a story. Through its
repetition, a motif can
help produce other
narrative (or literary)
aspects such as theme
or mood.
Symbolism in Night
 Night is a key symbol in
the novel. It represents
the darkness of the
Holocaust, the evil of
the Nazis, and the very
dark place of isolation
where all Jews find
 Fire, Crematoria,
Chimney, Ashes: These
images symbolize the
burning of flesh, the
evil of the Nazis, the
persecution of the
Jewish people.
Chapter 6
Pages 85-97
“Faster, you filthy dogs!” pg. 85
Chapter 6
 This chapter begins with a death march
 “The night was pitch black.” – p. 85
 The use of night as a motif continues
 Elie has gone so far as to delineate a
difference between himself and his body:
 “I couldn’t help thinking that there were two
of us: my body and I. And I hated that body.”
p. 85
Chapter 6
 Elie begins to consider death as an option:
 “Death enveloped me, it suffocated me. It
stuck to me like glue. I felt I could touch it.
The idea of dying, of ceasing to be, began to
fascinate me. To no longer exist.” p.86
 However, Elie perseveres because of his
father’s presence: The significance of Elie’s
father is that his presence fueled his will to
Chapter 6
 “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,
we were the only men on earth.” p. 87
 Note the imagery used to describe the
morning on page 87
Chapter 6
 The death march ends – Elie lies in snow,
which he describes as a “warm blanket”
Rabbi Eliahu loses his son p. 91
Elie wonders if the son “wanted to be rid of
his father?”
Elie prays to God:
“Oh God, Master of the Universe, give me the
strength never to do what Rabbi Elihau’s son
has done.” p. 91
Chapter 6
 Elie and his father commence another march
towards Gleiwitz p. 92
Elie reunites with Juliek – p. 93
Imagine digging out from a mass of dead, and
half dead bodies – Survival.
Listen to the beautiful description of Juliek
playing violin on pg. 95
What does the word envelop mean?
Another selection is imminent p. 96
They barely survive - thanks to Elie.
Chapter 7
Pg. 98-103
Chapter 7
 “The Night was growing longer,
neverending.” Symbolically, this represents
the neverending horror of the Holocaust.
 Elie’s father is near death
 The humiliation of the bread tossing and the
reference to a similar anecdote in the future is
significant. This illustrates the lasting effects
of the Holocaust.
Chapter 7
 Meir Katz and his father struggle
 This chapter really focuses on the struggle for
survival and the weight Elie’s father was
putting on him. Elie was fighting two life
 They arrive in Buchenwald.

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