There are several themes in the book Night by Elie Weisel, including dehumanization, survival of the fittest, loss, the salvation of love, and man’s cruelty. One of the more prominent themes that Weisel also uses in his book is that of fear and how it affects the Jews throughout the story. He emphasizes this theme of fear through the use of literary devices such as, imagery, metaphor, and tone. Weisel effectively uses imagery to better show and describe to his readers exactly what he and others went through while living in the concentration camps.
As he and the other Jews are headed for the fire pits upon their arrival at the first camp, he says “I was face to face with the angel of death. ” (31), believing he going to burn to death in the pits. The angel of death just represents death itself, for death can not have a face, but to make it more humanized and to make it more relatable Weisel says he is looking death in the face. Really it means he is about to come to his death. He was terrified because of this revelation.
Another instance of imagery used to describe fear is shown through a man who did not pass the selection process and is about to be sent to the crematory, “Suddenly his eyes would become blank, nothing but two open wounds, two pits of terror. ” (72). He lost his faith with God and that is what mainly sent him to the crematory. Once, his faith started to crack he lost the will to live and quit putting up a struggle to survive. This man is desolate without his God, thus, unchecked terror about death has overtaken him and this terror shows in his eyes, for he knows his doom is at hand.
The imagery helps to show the full impact that fear has on an individual and how each may see it in a different way. The use of metaphors in Night helps the reader become more engrossed in the story and in the horrible things that are happening to the Jews and to Weisel. One such metaphor uses fear as an undercurrent but does not directly state it. “The news had stunned everyone, yet we drained the bitter draft to the dredges. ” (11). The news of having to deport caught all the Jews in the Ghettos by surprise.
They were not prepared to deport and they had already told themselves that it would never happen to them, that they were perfectly safe from all the action. Hearing they had to deport made them realize that things weren’t going to get better, that they were not special, and that they would not avoid all the terrible misfortune that had befallen the other Jews. Even though the news was bad they wanted to know everything they could about the bad news, so that they could be prepared for what would happen next.
They were hoping that this was the dredges of the news and that there was no more left that they would have to swallow.. Yet they had fear of what was to come and the things they would have to go through. Fear swelled up in them as they drank the sour news. Elie has an inner fear at the end of the book. He is afraid of what he has become. “From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me. ” (109). He has just looked in a mirror after three years of never seeing himself. He is aghast at what he sees and does not believe it is him in the mirror.
There is not really a corpse there for a corpse is not alive and cannot stand. He is just so thin and wasted away that he looks like a corpse. Also, he is basically like a shell or just a body for he has no faith, hope, or happiness. He is broken and his empty body is basically all that is left of him. His corpse-like look on the outside, like a mirror, reflects the death of his soul on the inside. He has nothing to live for. He is afraid of the person he has become and does not want to be this person reflected in the mirror.
The tone of Weisel’s writing makes a big impact on the reader. He uses a very distinct way of writing that is able to show the whole horror of the situation. He creates a tone of sadness and depression with the theme of loss and the fear that it brings. “In the depths of my heart, I felt a great void. ” (66) Elie has just rejected God as an all justice being. He has said that man is stronger and better than God, but now he feels bad about it deep in his heart. He wishes that he did not believe this way, but can not help the way he feels and how he sees God.
Now that he doesn’t fully believe in God, it’s as if he is missing a piece of himself. Deep within him he is fearful of what will happen to him being alone in the world without God. He fears he is losing a piece of himself. Another instance of tone showing fear was when the Jews thought they were going to Hungary, but were actually going to the Czechoslovakia border, “Our eyes were opened, but too late. ” (21). Only then did they fully comprehend where they were going and that they would not “just be on vacation”, but now it was too late for them to go or run, they were trapped.
His eyes had always been open, but it means that only now does he see what is going to happen to them or have an idea about what is going to happen to them. The tone of this passage suggests the fear and foreboding felt by the Jews about what was to come and of what might happen to them. Fear is often associated with the night, but in Night it is infused throughout the book at all times of day. The literary devices used to convey fear are practiced well in this story. Not just any writer can instill a sense of foreboding and fear in a reader throughout an entire book.