Reflect on reading: discussion questions

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DIRECTIONS: Use the following questions to review what’s happened in the novel and to reflect on ideas and themes.

  1. What conflicts are introduced in the preface to the novel when Mauriac discusses his meeting with the young journalist, Elie Wiesel?

  2. When Moshe tells Elie that he has “come to tell the story of his death” what changes have occurred in Moshe’s character since the beginning of the novel?

  3. Why is the scene with Madame Schachter so emotionally moving to the reader?

  4. What images and thoughts from that first night at the concentration camp can Elie never forget?

  5. The hanging of the pipel is an important turning point in the novel both in terms of the effect the hanging has on the prisoners and on the overall ideas that the pipel represents. Explain these effects in greater detail.

  6. What is ironic in the statement, “I’ve got more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He’s the only one who’s kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people”? What other examples are there of irony in the novel?

  7. Explain the relationship between Elie and his father. Note the changes in their relationship as they endure the harshness of the camps.

  8. Many have commented on the savagery shown by the Nazis in a supposed modern civilized world. Juliek’s violin represents cultured civilization amidst the brutality of the camps. Comment on how the Nazis could justify their actions toward the Jewish people.

  9. How is the passage describing the fight over the piece of bread in the open cattle car one of both horror and sadness?

  10. In what ways is the relationship between Elie and his father both similar and different to that of Elie and God?

  11. How does Elie change over the course of the novel/

  12. McAfee Brown says, “It must be the prayer of our generation that with his (Elie Wiesel’s) help we can recapture enough of that reality so it will never be repeated.” Could you believe that the atrocities of the Holocaust would be repeated? How powerful of an impact does this novel have? Explain your answer.

  13. What are the various images and thoughts associated with the word “night” and why do you think Wiesel chose this word for the title of his novel?

  14. Give examples of the ways in which similes and metaphors are used and the overall effect their use has on the writing itself.

  15. One of the themes in the novel is faith. How does Akiba Drumer’s personal faith in God and in himself change? How does Elie’s faith in God and himself change? Why does one choose to die and the other to live?

  16. Explain at least two examples of both internal and external conflicts in the novel.

  17. Using a timeline of the history of the Holocaust, cite several examples where blatant disregard for human rights and personal liberties is ignored.

  18. Many people have wondered why the Jewish people went so “easily” to the concentration camps and did not fight back against their aggressors. Does the novel adequately answer the question of “resistance” among the Jews?

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