Read and Review: The Night Trilogy

base_media2     I finished “The Night Trilogy” by Elie Wiesel. It consists of the books “Night”, “Dawn”, and “Day” (previously called, The Accident.) In the first book, Night,the author relates his real-life experiences during the Holocaust and his time spent in Auschwitz and Buchenwald. It is a masterpiece of tragic, holocaust literature. It was also one of the most depressing books I’ve ever read, but that was no fault of the author. Wiesel wrote his heart out. He, very simply and efficiently, wrote what he experienced in the concentration camps. This book has left me speechless. There is just nothing I can say other than: you must read it. And learn from it.

     The second book in the trilogy, Dawn, is a novel. That story is fiction, though Wiesel said in some sense the main character is him, or what he might have become if circumstances in his life had been different after he was released from the Nazi death camps. The story is about a young man named Elisha who joins a Jewish underground movement and is ordered to execute a British soldier at dawn. The story is brief and poignant, as he struggles with this decision, debates whether he will do it or not. That one question, will he do it or won’t he?, kept me turning the pages to the very end. (It was 87 pages long.) If you want that question answered, you will have to read it for yourself.

     I was hoping that Day   would be a little more cheerful, or at least have a happy ending, or a hopeful ending. (It didn’t, really). This was my least favorite book of the three, but it still challenged my thinking. In it, Wiesel explores the question, “How can a person be expected to forget a tragedy of this magnitude (WWII) and go on to lead a normal life, to love, and believe in God?” I learned much in this book about Holocaust survivors, however. For the most part, I learn what I know about WWII from watching movies, reading books, and taking history classes. Primarily, these 3 sources of information deal with what happened during the war, which is important. Day helped me see the effects on Holocaust survivors after the war was over: the emotional damage, the despair they still live with, their loss of faith in God  and their belief that He is good and kind. Wiesel seems very bitter towards God, and it is very evident in his writing. His exploring of his own emotional damage was the most enlightening to me. People in the book kept telling him to forget what happened, to live and to love. You can almost feel his anguish and despair as he knows that he can’t.

These books are very brutal and real. Wiesel’s writing style is simple and efficient. If you are a quick reader, then it won’t take you more than a few days to read all three. But I will warn you, they will leave you feeling very grieved about the tragedies that took place during WWII, and it makes me wonder how many more such tragedies are going on even today that no one knows about? In his introduction to the book, Wiesel says that he writes these things in order that the dead might always have a voice, and to deny the enemy the final victory: the world forgetting what happened during one of the darkest time periods in our history. May we never forget!

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