1. Describe Wiesel’s community at the beginning of the story. How does young Eliezer view the world and his place in it?

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Guided Questions for Night by Elie Wiesel

1. Describe Wiesel’s community at the beginning of the story. How does young Eliezer view the world and his place in it?

2. What are some incidents that suggest or foreshadow the coming danger to the Sighet Jews? Why doesn’t the community believe it is in danger?

3. What are the conditions on the Jews’ train journey? How do the Jews react to Madame Schachter’s behavior? What does this reveal about human nature?

4. What animalistic terms do the Nazis use when speaking to the Jews? What effect does this have on the Jews? On the reader?

5. What is the significance of the title, Night? What other references to night or darkness can be found in the memoir? What is the author’s purpose in repeating this image?

6. Eliezer observes the now-infamous inscription above the entrance to Auschwitz, equating work with liberty. How does that inscription come to embody the deceit and bitter irony of the Nazi camps? What was the “work” of the prisoners? Were any of the Auschwitz survivors ever liberated emotionally?
7. Eliezer’s gold crown makes him a target for spurious bargaining, concluding in a lavatory with Franek, the foreman, and a dentist from Warsaw. Discuss the hierarchies in place at Auschwitz. How was a prisoner’s value determined? Which prisoners were chosen for supervisory roles? Which ones were more likely to face bullying, or execution?
8. Eliezer expresses sympathy for Job, the biblical figure who experienced horrendous loss and illness as Satan and God engaged in a debate over Job’s faithfulness. After watching the lynching and slow death of a young boy, Eliezer tells himself that God is hanging from the gallows as well. In his Nobel lecture, Wiesel describes the Holocaust as “a universe where God, betrayed by His creatures, covered His face in order not to see.” How does Wiesel’s understanding of God change throughout the book? How did the prisoners in Night, including rabbis, reconcile their agony with their faith?
9. After the surgery on Eliezer’s foot, he and his father must face being marched to a more remote camp or staying behind to face possible eleventh-hour execution amid rumors of approaching Red Army troops. Observing that Hitler’s deadliness is the only reliable aspect of their lives, Wiesel’s father decides that he and his son should leave the camp. The memoir is filled with such crossroads, the painful outcomes of which can be known only in retrospect. How does Wiesel respond to such outcomes?
10. What is the significance of the book’s final image, Wiesel’s face, reflected in a mirror? He writes that a corpse gazed back at him, with a look that has never left him. What aspects of him died during his ordeal? What aspects were born in their place? What do you make of his observation that among the men liberated with him, not one sought revenge?

11. How does Eliezer’s relationship with his father change throughout the novel? What causes this evolution?

12. How do the people Wiesel interacts with strengthen or diminish his hope and desire to live? Consider his father, Madame Schachter, Juliek (the violin player), the French girl, Rabbi Eliahou and his son, the Nazis.

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