The story of Night is not exactly a memoir by the definition of the word itself. However, it is popularly regarded as one because of the numerous, depositions, testimonials as well as emotional openness that is characteristic of memoirs. Eliezer is, to some extent, fictitious representation of the writer, Elie Wiesel. Even though some information has been altered, most of Wiesel’s experiences during the Holocaust are similar to Eliezer’s.
A Short Synopsis of the Narrative
Nazis occupied Hungary during spring in 1944. Soon afterward, a series of increasingly cruel murders are conducted upon the citizens. All Jews within Eliezer’s town get rounded up and placed into little ghettos within Sighet. Later on, they get packed on cattle cars then transported to Birkenau, just a few miles from Auschwitz.
It is there that Eliezer’s sisters and his mother get separated from the family, leaving him with his father. They never see each other again. Eliezer then details how the Jews were routinely screened to determine if they are fit for work, or should be executed. However, Eliezer & his father pass all inspections. On their way back to the prison quarters, they discover an open pit in which they discover Nazis incarcerating babies alive.
The Jews get stripped naked as they arrive and proceed to be shaved, sanitized and mistreated. Later on, they are forced to march to Auschwitz. Upon arrival, they are taken to a camp called Buna, where Eliezer is made to work in a factory. With poor working and living conditions, the prisoners become malnourished and emaciated. Their sole consolation is their Zionist origin and love for one another.
The captives are forced to witness their fellows get hanged in the courtyard. Eventually, the Jews adopt an attitude of self-preservation. This made sons torture or abandon their fathers. Eliezer then Discovers he is losing his humanity and drifting away from God.
Months later, Eliezer has surgery done on his foot due to an injury. While at the hospital, Nazis evacuate the camp due to the impending Russian invasion of the camp. The Jews are again forced to march fifty miles to a neighboring camp in Gleiwitz amidst a snowstorm.
Most of them died of exhaustion along the way, and upon arrival at Gleiwitz, they are once more forced into the cattle cars to start the next treacherous journey. Majority of the prisoners die, but Eliezer & his father make it thus far. However, his father dies soon afterward from dysentery and the effects of the physical abuse he experienced. Eliezer manages to survive until the liberation of the camp by the American army on 11th April 1945.