The following essay earned an “A” for exceeding the
requirements for the analysis of Night.
Jamie does an excellent job of using quotes for support throughout
her essay. She completes the
equation we went over so many times in class: tag + quote + cite +
explanation = solid support for argument.
Pay attention to the way in which she sets up each quote; she
provides a meaningful context so readers know exactly which part of the
text she is referencing. She
also does an excellent job of explaining each quote and then connecting these
quotes back to her thesis. This
serves to support her overall argument.
If you can master this, your writing will improve exponentially.
Be aware that while there are minor grammatical errors, the overall
quality of the essay is exceptional.
English 2 – 5th hour
September 25, 2003
Can goodness still survive when people are forced to dig graves for
others or when they’re bribed to help hang their own kind for an extra
ration of bread? Many things
like the events above happened during the Holocaust.
Night, a book by Elie Wiesel, describes one man’s horrible
experiences during that time. According
to events in the book, it’s almost impossible for people to retain their
humanity in conditions like these. When
people are degraded by these types of conditions the basic need to survive
takes over. The morals of society’s normal living get pushed aside when
a person’s will to survive kicks in.
Most people will definitely sacrifice their humanity when put in
life threatening situations.
many of the situations in Night, the prisoners and the guards alike
often lost their humanity. When
Moshe the Beetle comes back from his unimaginable deportation he tells
stories that seem too horrible for anyone to believe.
He tells everyone that, “They were made to dig huge graves . . .
without passion, without haste the prisoners were slaughtered.
Each one had to go up to the hole and present his neck.
Babies were thrown into the air and machine gunners used them as
targets” (4). In normal
situations the idea of shooting complete strangers after they dug their
own graves is very morbid. The
simple idea of throwing a baby into the air is completely sick even
without shooting them. The
Gestapo in charge must have had no feelings at all as he watched family
after family get murdered after doing nothing wrong.
There are many situations throughout the book when the people seem
to be de-humanized, and completely not caring about anyone.
In the guards cases they were generally just following orders and
in the prisoners it was that will to survive kicking in again.
But again and again there are countless situations where compassion
and courtesy to other mankind is forgotten.
were many uncomfortable situations throughout Elie’s story.
One of the most disturbing would probably be the way the prisoners
were transported. Usually the
prisoners were crammed onto cattle cars eighty to one hundred per car.
They were given very little food if any, and a bucket to relieve
themselves. The situations
were obviously very tense and nerve racking.
At one point in the book a women begins to hallucinate.
She screams and frightens everyone.
People try to comfort her, but eventually they try tying her up,
but it doesn’t contain her. Elie says, “Once more they tied her up and gagged her.
They even struck her. People
encouraged them . . . They struck her several times on the head – blows
that might have killed her” (24). This
situation shows that in this case, when this women needed help everyone
was so on edge that it was all they could do just to quiet her.
They all felt as nervous as she did, but those nerves caused them
to almost take out their nervousness on her.
In these conditions where everyone on the train was hungry, tired,
uncomfortable, and on edge the people were acting like animals.
They seemed to react unemotionally without regard to the woman and
only caring about themselves.
was another situation later in the book where Elie’s father is dying of
dysentery. It gets to the
point that he can no longer go outside to relieve himself.
People begin to beat him and take his food because they are so fed
up with him. In normal living
conditions, Elie’s father would have gotten medical attention. He would have been taken care of and probably would have
lived. The men in the story
were definitely in survival mode when they steal from and abuse Elie’s
father. Many of the
uncomfortable or abnormal situations got dealt with this way, almost as if
they were dehumanized. The
people reacted on pure instinct and not with their hearts or with
prisoners in the camps were put in starving conditions.
They were never given enough food to keep up their strength and
often not even enough to keep them alive.
These situations began to turn the prisoners against each other.
In a particular moment in the book a man is being hanged.
Ellie explains that: “At a sign from the head of the camp, the
Lagerkapo advanced toward the condemned man.
Two prisoners helped him in his task – for two plates of soup”
(59). When put in these
circumstances, some prisoners like the ones in the passage above were
willing to hang their own kind whether they were guilty or not, just for
an extra meal. Obviously
these men were not treating the situation as they would have in normal
everyday living. There was
another incident when Elie and his group were loaded onto a train for
transportation. They were
left on the train for ten days without any food or water.
Sometimes they would drive past a town and spectators would throw
little bits of food into their boxcars.
Elie describes the situation by saying that:
In the wagon where the bread had fallen, a real battle had broken
out. Men threw themselves on top of each other, stamping on each
other, tearing at each other, biting each other.
Wild beasts of prey
with animal hatred in their eyes; an extraordinary vitality had
them, sharpening their teeth and claws
men were starving to death and they did not care about one another.
Sons would steal from fathers and men would kill one and other for
a single piece of bread. These situations obviously depict the fact that compassion
and humanity were not the main things on the minds of many at the
concentration camps. Most
people would never react the way that these people did when put in normal
experiences in the book led the reader to believe that humanity is usually
sacrificed in the face of evil. When
men are starving to death they often stop caring for anyone but
themselves. In abnormally
stressful situations, people will do things that they would never dream of
doing in regular life. In
addition, the common ideas and moral views that a person generally has are
often suppressed by the need to survive.
As hard as the people in Elie’s world tried to stay good their
evil side took over and they were no longer in control.
Overall the stories in Night really show that in the face of
evil, goodness is very hard to find.