How does Elie arrive at the conclusion that he is stronger than God?
There is passing reference in the novel to an Oberkapos who was caught hiding weapons and was killed. This is the only reference point in the book to armed resistance against the “Final Solution.” Do some research into the Jewish or French resistance movements during World War II.
Talking with Jason Harris for the Tamalpais News in 1995, Wiesel offered this parable: “A man is walking alone in the woods; he’s lost and looking for a way out. Suddenly he sees another man a short distance away from him. He runs over to the man and exclaims, ‘Thank God you’re here! I’m saved! Surely you know the way out!’ to which the man responds, ‘First of all: don’t go back that way’ – he points-‘I just came from there.’”
If one considers “there” as the subject of Night, what is Wiesel suggesting about modern morality? Does it hint at a positive future?
Consider the following passage: “The stomach alone was aware of the passage of time.” What is the function of time in the novel? What mind/body problems does Elie discover in his fight for survival? Lastly, consider that after all the suffering of the camp, Elie gets food poisoning at the end and almost dies; what were the health challenges of saving the camp survivors?
Keeping in mind the difficulty until recently of breaking silence on the Holocaust (or other unreported matters of genocide), reflect on testimonial narratives in terms of the following passage from Saul Friedlander’s “Trauma, Transference and Working-Through”:
“Whether commentary…is built into a structure of a history or developed as a separated, superimposed text is a matter of choice, but the voice of the commentator must be clearly heard. The commentary should disrupt the facile linear progression of the narration, introduce alternative interpretations, question any partial conclusion, withstand the need for closure…Such commentary may introduce splintered or constantly recurring refractions of a traumatic past by using any number of different vantage points.”
Do some research into the Holocaust and compare the experiences of the Jews, Gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, and others who were imprisoned. Then compare this to the experience of Japanese-Americans and Japanese-Canadians during World War II.
Theodore Adorno once said “it is barbaric to continue to write poetry after Auschwitz.” What did he mean? Do you agree?
Read through some of the international treaties on human rights or consider the topic of human rights generally. What role should international bodies play in imposing the idea of human rights on other nations (for example: consider Tibet or the Serbian camps of the 1980s)? When is it proper to intervene in another country’s business? What do you think about the United States opposition to the treaty on torture (it bans capital punishment) or its refusal to allow independent human rights inspectors and reports-especially on Indian reservations?