So, we’ve been reading the novel, Night, by Elie Wiesel in our English class. The entire novel is about the author’s experience inside a concentration camp during the Holocaust. Now, I’ve watched several movies about the Holocaust, like The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (and I remember crying like a baby by the end of the movie, because it is one of the saddest movies I have ever watched), I’ve read parts of The Diary of Anne Frank when I was in middle school, and I learned about the Holocaust in history class this year too. So, when I first started reading Night, I was honestly expecting it to be boring and full of hidden meanings and facts I already knew about the Holocaust. But, what I wasn’t expecting was for the novel to be so in depth and detailed and I definitely wasn’t expecting to develop attachments to the characters.
But what I really want to talk about is this one particular scene:
Then came the march past the victims. The two men were no longer alive. Their tongues were hanging out, swollen and bluish. But the third rope was still moving: the child, too light, was still breathing…
And so he remained for more than half an hour, lingering between life and death, writhing before our eyes. And we were forced to look at him at close range. He was still alive when I passed him. His tongue was still red, his eyes not yet extinguished.
Behind me, I heard the same man asking:
“For God’s sake, where is God?”
And from within me, I heard a voice answer:
“Where He is? This is where—hanging here from this gallows…”
That night the soup tasted of corpses.
The details in this scene are absolutely horrific. Especially the “Their tongues were hanging out, swollen and bluish,” line. Reading that line makes my insides feel all squirmish. And the thought of seeing a child being hanged, “lingering between life and death”? Terrifying.
Through this scene, Wiesel was trying to show his readers how cruel the Germans were to the prisoners. They were forced to walk past the dead men, look at their mangled, hanging bodies, and wonder in fear if that would be them someday. What was the point of this? Control. The Germans needed a way to maintain and control the prisoners; they needed a way that would make the prisoners too scared to rebel, and making them watch the hangings was their way.
And I think that we could relate to this… in a way. But definitely not to the extremity of death, I mean, it is impossible to relate to how the prisoners felt during this time. What I mean is that, I’m pretty sure everyone has always wanted to do something, but were too afraid of consequences or just too afraid in general. I know I definitely have.
So, I’ll end this post with another quote, by Dale Carnegie.