Review of Night by Elie Wiesel

December 12, 2018 |  Tagged , | Comments Off on Review of Night by Elie Wiesel

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Teaching teenagers about atrocities humans have committed throughout history is difficult for a variety of reasons that extends further than the actual facts of these events. One of the bigger problems teachers encounter when talking about atrocities is that the level of violence that occurred during these atrocities are hard to fathom and imagine other people being able to commit these atrocities. Another issue in teaching about war crimes and atrocities is that students can find it difficult to understand the consequences and implications of these atrocities because it appears too distant and impersonal for it to affect them. For teachers to be able to emphasize the importance of human actions that resulted in devastating consequences, it is best for students to be exposed to memoirs such as Night by Elie Wiesel.

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Night is an autobiography of a man who had to find ways to survive as a Jewish teenager during the Holocaust. In this autobiography, Wiesel not only goes into detail of the horrors he experienced and saw as an inmate in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald death camps, but the audience also gets a glimpse of what was going on in the Wiesel’s mind as he tried to survive these death camps and make sense of how God would allow such atrocities to happen to his people. This book is very detailed and well written, allowing the audience to get a taste of what it was like to be in survival mode in the Nazi death camps.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 Although there are a lot of books about the Holocaust, Night is a book that is easily accessible to students. One of the concerns teachers have when assigning memoirs or historical fiction novels to their students is the length and complexity of the book. Although teachers would want to assign the best book on the subject to their students, the reality is that all students are different and therefore will respond differently to the book. Night is not a long memoir, but its vivid imagery and depictions of the life of the author allow the reader to see and understand immediately the experiences that the author had as a Jewish boy trying to survive the Holocaust.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 Having students see the Holocaust from the perspective of a Holocaust survivor allows students to get a feeling of how the author’s life changed over the course of his late childhood and adolescence. Students will be able to see how a seemingly normal boy’s life was turned upside down from one day to another, losing family and friends because of government policies that were aimed at eliminating the community he grew up in. Talking about total death toll and other statistics is important to see the larger picture, but it is also very impersonal, which makes it easier to ignore the larger impact of this genocide. Perspective is important because it helps humanize and put a face to the countless victims of the Holocaust. Although World War II ended 70 years ago, it is not a long time since this happened- there are people who are still alive today who are survivors of the Holocaust.

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 One of the major advantages that this book has in the classroom is that it provides the reader with a very personal and vivid recollections of Wiesel’s experiences in the Nazi death camps. Teenagers being presented with this book will be able to have a closer connection with the book since most of the plot of the book is focused on the author’s teenage years. Although students will not be able to relate to being forced into death camps, they can relate to the author’s coming of age and his questioning of his beliefs as a result of his experiences. Having these connections will allow the readers to understand the trials and tribulations that Wiesel went through in vastly different circumstances from their own.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 One of the disadvantages of this autobiography is that because it is an autobiography, it does not provide additional perspectives from people who played different roles in the Holocaust. Although it is important for people to understand the pain that Jews went through, it is equally important for the public to see how people not only bought into the Nazi ideology, but were able to go through with killing millions of “undesirables” over the course of World War II. This perspective is also important for the public to be exposed to because people who became Nazis did not become Nazis overnight, but became Nazis due to a series of factors and circumstances. This will show the power and influence propaganda, stereotypes, and bias plays in shaping the way people see and treat other groups of people.

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 Teaching the Holocaust and genocides in general to high school students taught me that students have a difficult time understanding how seemingly normal people in our eyes were able to commit such atrocities. Many students view the world as good vs. bad and that good people are not capable of committing atrocities since they are good. To get students to understand that the world does not revolve around good vs. bad, it is important to walk students through scenarios where students role-play a role in society and have the scenarios evolve in a way that would lead a student to making a decision that can harm a group of people. Doing this will allow students to realize on their own that the world is much more complex than it seems and that it is not just “bad” people who commit atrocities, but “good” people can commit atrocities too under certain circumstances.

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 A teacher can also expose students to the Holocaust from the perspective of the perpetrators through books like Ordinary Men by Christopher Browning or Neighbors by Jan Gross. Both of these books show how seemingly ordinary people became capable of committing atrocities against Jews during World War II. Although these books may be graphic, it shows that the path toward being capable of committing atrocities is not straightforward, but rather gradual.

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 Students of color such as African Americans and Hispanics may have very little connection to the Holocaust because their ethnic/racial group was not directly involved in this genocide. Although students may understand that the Holocaust was a terrible event in history, they will have difficulty understanding the devastating consequences of the Holocaust. To help students understand this better, it is important to talk about the role that bias and stereotypes play in demonizing a group to the point of genocide. Teachers can have students reflect on how current biases and stereotypes against the group(s) they identify with have affected them in their everyday lives or the lives of people they know. Although this is a difficult task to accomplish, utilizing books like Night alongside this activity will have students make connections between a genocide that they believed happened too long ago and themselves. These connections will allow students to empathize with a genocide that they had nothing to do with and question their own biases against other groups.


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