This book is an autobiography of sorts. Elie Wiesel is a Holocaust survivor. To refresh your memory, the holocaust was that horrible thing where the German Army put Jewish people, polish people etc in these horrible concentration camps. The Germans made them slaves and killed them in gas chambers. Elie was 12 years old during the holocaust. Everyone in his family died. He survived and moved to America. He writes a lot of Holocaust books and stuff. He opened up the Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, which is kinda famous. This book has no chapters, it is split into 9 sections.
Elie Wiesel: The main dude of he book. He is 12. He starts out as a young happy teenager. But after he goes through the crappy life of a concentration camp, he is a VERY jaded adult.
Chlomo Wiesel: Elieís dad. He loves Elie very much. He dies in the end.
Mrs. Wiesel: She is a nice, quiet woman. When she gets to the concentration camp, she is immediately taken to the death camps.
Hilda, Beatrice, and Tzipora Wiesel: Elieís sisters.
The book starts in 1944 Romania. The main character is Elie Wiesel. He is 12. All Elie does is read religious books and practice Judaism. Then his teacher tells him that the nazis are coming to do bad stuff. Then the Nazis start putting Jewish people on trains and shipping them to a really BAD concentration camp called Auschwitz. Elieís family gets shipped there too.
When they get to Auschwitz, the men are divided into 2 groups: Those who have the strength to work, and the old dudes who are sent to be killed. The women are sent straight to the death camps because the Nazis think they are useless. Elie and his dad lie about their ages and go with the "strong working men". Elie sees all the death and starts to wonder if God really exists.
Elie and his dad try to stay healthy so they can work and avoid getting killed. They work in an electronics warehouse, and Elie sees a young dude get hung. Elieís dad almost gets labeled as "not strong" (which means he would stop working and go get killed). Luckily, he passes his physical. Then Elie hurts his foot badly.
The Russian army moves close to the Nazi camp to kick some German ass. The Nazis move the prisoners to another concentration camp called Buchenwald. Elie and his dad have to run in the snow. Elieís dad is in bad shape. They have to eat snow to stay alive. Then they get to the concentration camp. Elieís dad dies. Finally the American army comes in and frees the prisoners.
PART BY PART
- The book starts in 1941.
- Elie is a young kid who loves studying Judaism. He reads the Talmud a lot.
- He studies with this dude named Moshe Beadle. Moshe is a handyman who digs religion.
- Moshe tells Elie to ask God questions, and that you should not just dive into "believing in God"
- Then one day the Hungarian Army comes and starts taking people away. They take Moshe.
- Moshe returns after a few months. He tells the people that these evil dudes took people and killed them and shot babies and stuff. Moshe was shot but escaped.
- The townspeople think Mosheís crazy.
- The people listen to the war on the radio. The Russians are winning and the people think that they donít have to worry about Hitler and his army coming and killing them.
- Then they start seeing German soldiers in the town.
- At first the Germans are cool to the Jews. Then they turn into big pricks. They make the Jews give up their money. Then they give them a curfew and make them do crappy jobs.
- Then the German soldiers make all the Jews leave their homes and live in a "ghetto" (this big place in town that was surrounded by barbed wire).
- Then Elieís dad (Chlomo) finds out that the Germans are gonna ship the Jews somewhere (they donít know yet)
- One early morning a nice cop warns the Wiesel family of the bad stuff thatís gonna happen.
- The Jews start packing their things. They start getting shipped out. Elieís family isnít picked to go on the first couple trains. So they hang out in the "ghetto"
- Then Elieís family is shipped out on the last train.
- There are like 80 people all stuffed like sardines in the train. The conditions were awful.
- The trip lasts 3 days. Each day sucks. They are crowded, hungry and hot.
- The train stops in Czechoslovakia. The Germans make everyone give up all their possessions.
- They tell them if anyone escapes they will be shot.
- Then this chick named Madame Schachter starts going crazy and screams because she has these visions of people burning.
- On the last day the train finally arrives in Auschwitz.
- 2 of the Jewish passengers go to get water. They come back and tell everyone stuff they heard. They say all families will work together, and there will be medical help for everyone. This info id REALLY wrong.
- All the passengers go to the check-in place. They smell burning flesh (gross!). They see people in uniforms with clubs. These guards make everyone get out of the trains.
- The Jews starts marching in lines. The men go one way and the women go the other. The women are being marched to death camps. This is the last time Elie sees his mom and his sisters.
- Some dude tells Elie to pretend to be 18, and to tell his dad to pretend to be 40 (heís 50). Then they will both make the cut for able-bodied working men instead of getting killed because they are too old or too young to work.
- This nazi dude named Dr. Mengele looks at the men and picks which ones are gonna die and which one are gonna work.
- Elie sees a truck full of babies who get thrown into a big fire and burned.
- Elie wants to kill himself by throwing himself into the electric fence.
- The men go through a series of different barracks. They take off their clothes, shave their heads, shower and then put on dirty prison clothes.
- At one barrack, the Nazis tell the Jewish men to give up their new shoes if they have them. Elie has new shoes but theyíre covered in mudÖso they donít look new.
- Elie and his dad have no special skills, so they are sent to work in the stone barracks.
- They arrive at these new barracks. The Nazis tattoo Elie with a prisoner #.
- Then they just work, eat and sleep. Life sucks at Auschwitz.
- After 3 weeks, Elie and his dad are moved to another camp. This camp is called Buna.
- They get another shower and more dirty prison uniforms.
- Nazi soldiers go around to the prisoners looking for loot. Even the dentist wants to take Elieís gold tooth. Elie pretends to be sick and doesnít give it to him.
- People are just really pissed off and depressed. This Nazi guard named Idek fights Elie.
- Elieís dad keeps getting tortured. So Elie saves him, by giving up his gold tooth (bribe)
- Then Elie catches Idek the guard screwing some Polish chick (Germans were supposed to hate the polish, not sleep with them). Elie is beaten because he saw something he wasnít supposed to see. Idek makes him keep his mouth shut.
- One Sunday, the American airforce bombs Elieís camp. The prisoners are forced to pick up dud bombs and clean up the mess.
- Elie sees some dude get hanged because he stole stuff during the American attack.
- Then the Nazis hang a 13 year old boy. Elie is really pissed because that is REALLY cruel. Elie starts to doubt God.
- Rosh Hashanah comes (Jewish new year)
- Lots of the Jews pray to celebrate this holy day. Elie still questions God and how he can let all this cruel shit go on.
- Then Yom Kippur is celebrated. Elieís dad tells him not to fast (you are supposed to)
- Elie stands up to God, and really defies him by not fasting.
- The Nazis do another round of checking out guys to see who is strong (they will work), and who is weak (they will die)
- Elie is a strong boy, so he knows he will pass. He is worried about his dad though because his dad is getting old.
- Elie passes the test. Then his dad gets called to take the physical examination. Chlomo thinks heís gonna get rejected so he gives Elie his knife and spoon.
- Chlomo passes his test.
- Winter hits. All the prisoners are cold as hell. Life sucks.
- Elieís foot is infected so he goes to the hospital. Another patient tells him to leave soon because they kill the sickest patients (they are useless).
- Elie leaves the hospital. His doc said he was gonna be ok. Then the prisoners learn the Russian army is coming. The Nazis move all the prisoners to some other camp in Central Germany.
- Elie and his dad walk through the snow with the other prisoners. Elie finds out the Russians came and rescued all the people in the hospital (doesnít that suck? He shouldnít have left!!)
- So all the prisoners are now marching through the snow to this other camp. The slow ones are killed.
- Everyone is cold. Elie wants to kill himself but he has to stay alive to take care of his dad.
- The prisoners finally get some shelter in an old factory. Then some Rabbi is walking around looking for his son. Elie tells the Rabbi that his son ran ahead of him to make sure he wasnít killed for being slow (The Rabbi is old and slow)
- Elie is kinda pissed about how selfish that kid is.
- The prisoners arrive at a camp called "Gleiwitz". All the prisoners are crowded into small barracks.
- Elieís friend Juliek is there. He has his violin with him and plays some Beethoven. The next day Juliek is dead and his violin is destroyed.
- The Nazi guards watch the prisoners very closely and donít feed them. The prisoners can hear the Russian army coming.
- The Nazis have another "selection" to see who is still fit and who will be killed. Chlomo almost gets put in the "to be killed" section, but Elie rescues him.
- The prisoners are hungry as hell. They eat bread and drink the snow because they are so thirsty.
- The prisoners are still crowded in the tiny barracks. They live among dead bodies.
- The next day Elie looks for his dad and finds him lying there. Elie wakes his dad up so the Nazis donít think heís dead and just bury him.
- The prisoners continue to travel through the snow. They continue to use snow as food (gross!)
- The Nazis throw pieces of bread to the group of prisoners. The Nazis think it is funny to watch them fight over the bread scraps.
- This one kid named Meir kicks his dadsí ass over a piece of bread. They both die in a huge rumble over the bread.
- Then some guy attacks Elie. His dad and Meir Katz (another Meir) defend him.
- Meir Katz is really sad because his son was picked to die (too young).
- The prisoners keep travelling. They take a train to Buchenwald. When they arrive, lots of the prisoners are dead. Elie, his dad and 10 other guys are alive.
- Elie and his dad are put in a line and marched to the showers. Elie thinks heís getting a hot shower, but his dad knows theyíre gonna get killed
- Chlomo falls down and refuses to go to the showers. Elie tells him to get up but Chlomo is too tired and close to death.
- The Nazis take Elie away and put him in the sleeping quarters. He doesnít eat, and falls asleep.
- The next day Elie goes and finds his dad. He finds out that the Nazis arenít giving Chlomo food because he is close to dying anyway.
- At this point Chlomo is really sick. He loses his memory and barely recognizes Elie anymore.
- Prisoners start hitting Chlomo because he does nothing and just poops in his bed, which smells up the joint.
- Elie gets advice to just let his dad die and to take his dadís meals. Elie listens and just leaves his dad to die.
- On Jan 29, Elie wakes up and sees that someone else is in his dadís bed. He realizes his dad got taken to the crematory and is dead. Elie is really sad but he kinda feels happy that his dad is dead and doesnít have to suffer anymore.
- Elie is sad that his dad is dead. Elie really has nothing to live for.
- All he can think about is eating.
- The prisoners hear that the Germans are planning to kill all the prisoners at once. They organize protest.
- The prisoners start leaving the barracks and getting the hell out of the concentration camps.
- On April 10, the Nazis planned to let all the prisoners go and destroy the building so there would be no evidence of the holocaust.
- The Nazis are losing the war and start scrambling for their lives. Then American tanks arrive at the concentration camps. The prisoners finally get to eat.
- After Elie becomes free he gets sick with food poisoning. After he gets better he look in the mirror and he sees his reflection as a dead body (he looks like a corpse).
THINGS TO MAKE YOU LOOK SMART
- The title of this book has big "symbolism". Night refers to darkness in the evening and how Elie and his dad saw lots of horrible shit at night in these camps. And Night refers to the darkness in their spirit, and how it must have constantly been "night" (dark) in their emotions because they saw horrible things and were victims of horrible brutality.
- Elie the main character is the same Elie as the author dude. Just in case you forgot.
- Words canít describe the absolute horrible shit that happened in the Holocaust. The Nazis were really big assholes.
- Elie starts off in this book as a boy, but in the end is a worn out man. He didnít really choose to mature in this book, it was the awful events that forced him.
- The author is bigtime into Judaism. There is a lot of religious content in this book. Throughout the book, Elie questions whether God can exist if there are evil people doing evil things.