Eliezer’s Lost Childhood and the Image in the Mirror – Essay

In today’s technological age, it is easy to question the relevance of literature. However, there are a number of key reasons why literature remains indispensible among them being establishment of connections. It is through literature that we understand lives of others, including those who lived in eras before our own. Lastly literature helps enrich our ideas of the past and enlightens us (Wellek, Rene, &Austin, 18).

This paper is based on the book, ‘Night’ by Eliezer Wiesel who is also known as Elie Wiesel. Eliezer is the intellectual, writer and the holocaust stayer who survived the ferocious World War II period.  Despite receiving warnings about Germans intentions, Eliezer’s family and other Jews in their town fail to flee into safety. Eliezer and his family are taken into captive and separated; his sister goes with their mother while he stays with their father. He faced many hardships among them hunger, abuse and hopelessness. While in captivity, Elizer loses his father and although he survives the ordeal, he loses his childhood innocence and is haunted by violence and death he has witnessed while he was in captivity. This paper will predominantly discuss Eliezer’s lost childhood that is reflected in the image in the mirror that is described towards the end of the book.

The conclusion of the Night was certainly interesting.Eliezer had not seen his face in a mirror for a long timeand while in the hospital after being rescued from captivity, he gets an opportunity to do so. He says that,“From the depths of the mirror, a corpse was contemplating me” (Wiesel, 115). Eliezer had been through a stretch of violent period where he was abused, starved and lost his family. At that moment, he was not sure of whom he was andeven doubted his faith. Furthermore, he had not looked at his reflection since the ordeal begun and seeing himself in such a weathered state for the first time coupled with the disbelief of what had befallen him and his family must have felt surreal.

The corpse that Eliezer saw looking back at him in the mirror was his own reflection.The person staring back at him was no longer the child he knew from Sighet, he was a stranger who had been subjected to inhumane living conditions.  The person he saw on the mirror was what the Holocaust had left of him. Although there was one image looking back at him, he was not just seeing himself, he was seeing all the Jews that had survived the Holocaust. His dilapidated features represented each faithless and lonely survivor. Every survivor who looked into a mirror and saw his/ her weathered features must have felt a similar emptiness as Eliezer felt. Although he had survived the Holocaust, he did not feel like he had survived anything, at that moment, he felt like a victim more than a survivor.

After all the pain, hurt and tough times that he has gone through, Eliezer looked at his reflection and he says that he felt as if he was looking at his own corpse and that, “the look in his eyes as he gazed at me has never left me” (Wiesel, 115). Here we see that he is wrecked inside. Although he was physically strong to have survived the Holocaust, he is emotionally and mentally drained. Several aspects of him died that day among them being his emotions. The loss he experienced at such a young age has left him numb and faithless.Those aspects were replaced by the birth of other aspects among them being rebellion. He had been through an extremely gruesome experience and lost his innocence and family. He says he will never forget the things that happened to him even if he was to “live as long as God Himself ” (Wiesel, 116).The bitterness of what he had been subjected to and the need to survive had changed him for good.

 

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