Elie Wiesel

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Night Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Elie Wiesel's Night. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel was born in the Romanian town of Sighet, which was annexed by Hungary during World War II (the town is now called Sighetu Martiei). His parents came from Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish families, and he was encouraged to learn Hebrew and to study the Bible and the Talmud. His father kept a shop and was a respected man in the town's Jewish community. Both of his parents died in Nazi concentration camps, as did his younger sister; his two elder sisters survived. After the war, Wiesel went to an orphanage in France, studied at the Sorbonne, and became a journalist. In 1945, he swore to himself not to write about his experience in the death camps for ten years. Ten years later, he wrote a massive book in Yiddish called And the World Remained Silent, which was published in Argentina in 1956. Parts of it he later edited and published as the books Night, Dawn, and Day. Wiesel moved to the United States in the 1950s. He continued to write many books and has held prominent teaching positions at American universities. For his work as a outspoken proponent of peace and critic of racism, he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.
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Historical Context of Night

Night is one person's experience of the Holocaust—the Nazi's effort to exterminate the Jews of Europe, largely by sending the Jews to concentration camps where they were worked to death, or worked to near death and then killed. By the end of World War II, Adolf Hitler had systematically murdered six million Jews and millions of gypsies, Communists, homosexuals, and other people the Nazis considered undesirable. Jews in Hungary were not directly affected until 1944, by which point the concentration camps had been in operation for some time. Yet information was unreliable and difficult to come by. The Jews of Wiesel's town of Sighet either did not know or could not believe the extent of the Nazi's so-called "Final Solution." In the spring of 1944, the Nazis effectively took control of the Hungarian government, and Adolf Eichmann, Hitler's architect of the Holocaust, oversaw the deportation of Hungary's sizable Jewish population to concentration camps in Germany and Poland.

Other Books Related to Night

Night is the first book in a trilogy Wiesel wrote about the Holocaust. The others, Dawn and Day, are novels, whereas Night is generally considered to be a memoir. Night has become one of the most prominent pieces of literature about the Holocaust. Other books that deal with the Holocaust and have reached a wide readership include Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl, Primo Levi's If This Is a Man,
Key Facts about Night
  • Full Title: Night
  • When Written: 1955 - 1958
  • Where Written: South America, France
  • When Published: Argentina, France
  • Genre: Memoir
  • Setting: Europe during World War II
  • Climax: Eliezer's father's death
  • Antagonist: The German SS guards and officers; the Kapos
  • Point of View: First person