Night Book Review
For this month's book club we met at Lisa's house again. Her house is very comfortable and seems to be the easiest location for all of us to get to. It is amazing how most of the girls seem to be in sync with one another. Not many of us brought wine as we were not in the right mood to heavily imbibe. Most of us, for some reason, brought sweets. Earlier in the afternoon I was out with a charming man who treated me to lunch. The restaurant we chose happened to have a pastry shop in the front of the dining hall. Paul, my companion, knew I was having my book club that evening. He insisted that he must buy us a large box of treats from the pastry shop for our meeting. He was trying to get in good with my girlfriends! I accepted the box and when I walked in with this giant assortment of sweet goodies, the girls insisted I stop seeing Paul so that they could have a chance with him. It was such a nice gesture on his part. That man spoils me!
When we began to discuss Night, I almost felt guilty to relive his nightmarish experience while sitting around a full table of good food and wine. After all, starvation was a major theme. The things that Mr. Wiesel had to endure to survive the death camp were intolerable. Even worse than surviving, to me, were the images of cruelty that he witnessed. How could anyone go on with their lives after seeing the gruesome scenes that he lived through on a daily basis?
Night is a very short and small book. Mr. Wiesel did well to keep his story short and concise which left much to the reader's imagination. He did not go off on long drawn out descriptions of the horrors he witnessed. Instead, he would briefly describe an emotionally devastating scene and quickly move on. You could easily read the book in one hour which is precisely what I did. Once I started to read Night, I had to finish it. At the end of each chapter, I usually had my mouth agape as I moaned at the sickness of the book's contents. Every few minutes I was yelling outloud to myself whenever I encountered a morally inconceivable act of violence and blind hatred. I think about these concentration camps often, and how so many human beings were slaughtered. How on earth could so many German men have been brainwashed into thinking torture and death to his innocent enemies would be okay? How can any man hold an infant in his arms and nonchalantly throw the cooing child into a pit of flames only because he or she was born Jewish? How were so many people easily turned into evil monsters?
As a child Mr. Wiesel was growing into a very religious young man. He studied his religion and took on mentors without the consent of his father at too young of an age because he was so eager to learn more. During and after his march within the concentration camps, he begins to wonder how a God could ever let something so atrocious as this to happen. We all wonder. How can you keep your faith? The book ends when he is freed from his prison. But it does not show the reader how Mr. Wiesel was able to find his faith again. I wonder how long it took him? He is still a man of faith, as evidenced by the author's forward in Night, but how was he able to keep believing after bearing witness to a Godless world? Most of us have never come close to experiencing the hate Mr. Wiesel lived through, and most of us still lose our faith only reading about the Holocaust.
I learned many new things about these concentration camps that I was unaware of. For example, I did not know that a head Jew was assigned to be the leader of each housing barracks. I assumed that an armed SS guard would be in charge. I was also surprised to read that both he and his father were saved from the crematorium when an officer told both of them to lie about their ages. His father was told to be younger while he was told to be older. A small act of compassion which I thought would never exist in a place such as that. Mr. Wiesel also briefly eluded to the sexual relations which went on between selected young Jewish boys and the twisted SS troops. However, I find this completely believable. If they are sick enough to throw small children screaming into the fire pits, why wouldn't they unleash their sexual deviance on innocent young boys?
Every word of this book deserved the Nobel and I am sure every reader of this book is grateful for its award. I never read this book in high school. It should be required reading for all youth.
We talked much about the sickness of it all. Our talks led to other genocidal campaigns around the world and other human slaughters. One happened right here in New England, but to a much smaller extent. 19 men and women were hung as witches in 1692 in a small town called Salem, Massachusetts. 300 years later, in 1992, there was a memorial dedicated to the Salem Witch Trials. It was presented and dedicated by none other than Mr. Wiesel.
After a while we began to discuss new books to read for next month. Both of my selections were too morbid to follow Night with. We needed something a little more uplifting. We needed to give our saddened minds a break! After turning our attention to something more positive, we did receive an amazing announcement of new life. Carly, our avid book club reader, surprised us all with her news of pregnancy! We found life within a Night of death.
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