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Elie Wiesel

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Night | Quotes


Why did I pray? Strange question. Why did I live? Why did I breathe?

Eliezer, Section 1

Eliezer is a pious Jew whose life revolves around prayer and study. When asked what seems like a simple question, he is unable to answer. Religion is so ingrained in him that it seems as natural as breathing.


The race toward death had begun.

Eliezer, Section 1

The Nazis have entered Sighet after the Jews were certain they never would and that they would remain safe. Upon first arrival, the Nazis did not do much or impose laws. But ultimately, everything changed for the Jews of Sighet.


The yellow star? So what? It's not lethal.

Shlomo, Section 1

The Jews of Sighet have deluded themselves that they are safe. They hear rumors and even direct warnings from Moshe the Beadle. Yet, they cannot imagine what would happen even as it's happening.


A few more days and all of us would have started to scream.

Eliezer, Section 2

While on the train, the Jews are stressed and scared. They have no idea where they are being taken and for what purpose. All the dreadful rumors they have heard are starting to seem possible. Madame Schächter, who has been screaming the whole trip, has nearly pushed them over the edge.


Never shall I forget ... the first night ... that turned my life into one long night.

Eliezer, Section 3

Eliezer is overwhelmed with the horrors he sees upon first entering the camps. While he will go on to see and experience many horrific things during his time in the camp, his first experiences have already destroyed his innocence and burned themselves into his memory.


My father had just been struck ... I ... watched and kept silent. ... Had I changed that much?

Eliezer, Section 3

Eliezer's father is slapped by a kapo for asking a simple question. Authority is being established, and Eliezer sees it right in front of him—and does nothing. The Nazis used intimidation and caused the men to feel fear. This ultimately cowed many men to simply follow and accept.


I was a body. Perhaps less than that even: a famished stomach.

Eliezer, Section 4

Eliezer and the other prisoners are malnourished. They are in the camps for work purposes only. The Nazis give the men as little as possible without starving them in order to work. The hunger gnaws at Eliezer and the other men; all they can think about is food.


Why, but why would I bless Him? Every fiber in me rebelled.

Eliezer, Section 5

It is the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, and the men have gathered for prayer. Prior to the concentration camp experience, the holiday had great meaning and significance for Eliezer. Now, Eliezer is angry at God for what He has done and what He has allowed to happen to his people.


We were the masters of nature, the masters of the world. We had transcended everything.

Eliezer, Section 6

Despite being malnourished and poorly clothed, the men are able to run for miles at a time on what has since been the death march. It seems as if they are able to overcome all the obstacles they face. Once they are given a break, many men die.


Meir, my little Meir! Don't you recognize me ... You're killing your father ... I have bread.

Eliezer, Section 7

Starvation has caused the prisoners to act in horrible ways. A father addresses his son in a loving way, but the son kills him for a piece of bread.


I tightened my grip on my father's hand. The old, familiar fear: not to lose him.

Eliezer, Section 8

Eliezer and his father have been together throughout the time in the camps. While they are veterans by the time they enter Buchenwald, Eliezer still longs for his father's presence. Having him there provides Eliezer comfort and a reminder of a better world.


The look in his eyes, as they stared into mine, has never left me.

Eliezer, Section 9

Eliezer sees his reflection in a mirror for the first time since before he was in the camps. Due to his experiences in the camps, he does not recognize himself. The look in his eyes haunts Eliezer as they are eyes that have seen and experienced hell on Earth.

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