Elie Wiesel

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Night | Section 9 | Summary



Eliezer spends the next few months in the children's block. He no longer thinks of anyone, including his parents. All he wants is food, and his dreams are of soup. On April 5, roll call is late, which is highly unusual. The men are told to gather at the assembly place, but Eliezer gets word the Germans are planning to kill all the prisoners and is told by his fellow inmates to go back to his block. An underground group known as the resistance, he is told, has "made the decision not to abandon the Jews and to prevent their liquidation."

At roll call the next day, the Germans announce the camp will be systematically evacuated over the coming days and the men will no longer receive rations. On April 10, the remaining 20,000 prisoners are gathered and are about to be evacuated when a siren goes off and evacuation is put off until the next day. The next morning, the resistance members appear, and after a short battle, the SS flees. That evening, the American army arrives to liberate the camp.

The freed men have one thought on their mind: food. The next day with their hunger satisfied, some men go to Weimar for clothes and sex. Three days after Buchenwald is liberated, Eliezer becomes deathly ill from food poisoning. While hospitalized to recover, he glances in the mirror and sees himself for the first time since he entered the ghetto. He says of the corpse he sees there, "The look in his eyes as he gazed at me has never left me." The book ends with this sentence.


As the final section begins, Eliezer is freed of the responsibility and care for his father, but "nothing matter[s] to [him] anymore." Eliezer is a shell of himself, and he drifts along, ghostlike, somewhere between life and death. He does not interact with anyone and merely happens to be where "the wheel of history turn[s]."

This emotionless Eliezer stands in stark contrast to the boy the reader meets at the beginning of the book. When first introduced to Eliezer, the reader sees a boy who is moved to tears over prayer and the Biblical destruction of the Temple. When asked why he cries, he cannot answer because it is natural for him, "because something inside [him] felt the need to cry." Now Eliezer cannot cry over the loss of his parents or anything else. His Holocaust experience has been his coming of age. It will haunt him for the rest of his life.

Eliezer sees a changed man when he looks in the mirror at the conclusion of the book. He describes himself as a corpse because his humanity has died; still, he is alive. The look in his own eyes that Eliezer can never forget will inspire him to be a voice for all those who were lost.

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