Elie Wiesel

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Night: Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

Eliezer spends another two and a half months at Buchenwald. He is transferred to the children's block and no longer thinks or feels anything but the desire to eat.
Without his father beside him, Eliezer is now just a body, surviving.
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One day the SS are late for roll call—which never happens. Then the loudspeakers call all the Jews to the assembly place. The children begin to move, but other prisoners whisper to them to return to the block.
The prisoners fear that because the war is nearing an end, the Nazi's will speed up the extermination of remaining Jews.
Since lots of Jews didn't show up at the roll call for Jews, there's a general roll call the next day. The prisoners are told that they are going to be evacuated, ten prison blocks each day. Buchenwald is being liquidated. There will be no more food rations given.
Now they will all be starving.
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A few days later there are still twenty thousand people in the camp, so the Nazis decide to speed things up and evacuate all the remaining prisoners before blowing up the camp. But an alarm goes off and the prisoners are sent back to their blocks and the evacuation is postponed a day. The prisoners have eaten nothing but grass and scavenged potato peelings for six days.
The Nazi's hope to destroy evidence of their death camps so they won't be held accountable after the war.
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Then an underground resistance movement within the camp springs into action, shooting and throwing grenades. The SS flees and the resistance takes over. That evening, the first American tank arrives.
Only at the last minute, when the remaining SS units are fearful and relatively weak, are the prisoners able to reassert themselves as people and fight the Nazis off.
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At first, after the liberation, Eliezer thinks only of eating. Three days later he gets food poisoning and nearly dies. He spends two weeks in a hospital. When he's able to get up, he looks in the mirror. He has not seen himself since the ghetto in Sighet. He sees the face of a corpse, a face he can never forget.
Although the book ends with Eliezer's survival, the lasting image from the final page is one of death. After witnessing so much death, the weak and starving Eliezer has come to look like death itself. For Eliezer, death has replaced God, love, family, and community as the one all-powerful fact of existence.
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