David Coulombe English 30-1 Renata Solski Essay Choice 2 December 30, 2010 Positive and Negative Characters. The division of antagonist and protagonist is quite obviously acknowledged in Night by Elie Wiesel. There are however, subcategories that exist in these two groups. To explain this Elie uses physical, mental, emotional and transitional descriptive techniques paired with the character’s unique traits to exhibit the real reason for each character’s appearance. Nazi’s can presumable be placed in a negative category by assumption, as well as the Jewish being assumed positive.
Nevertheless, there are always exceptions in life, and this novel contains many. These indifferences would not be distinguishable or explainable without Elie’s distinct descriptions of the individual characters. Elie even includes description that may not be completely accurate, but it enables him to show the reader the correct intentions of the characters. Elie himself is the one character in Night that does not his personal morals and integrity during his ordeal.
From beginning to end, Elie is a determined young character that is as tenacious as the Nazi’s goal of Jew extermination. At such an early age Elie is forced to live through what may be considered as the most heartless crime ever committed. His true colours are always evident as Elie is describing his true self in the novel. He never backs down from a challenge, or struggle. Because the story is written in first person narrative, his description of himself is the novel itself.
It is less direct than other character descriptions but it is also very descriptive and easy to understand. As Elie is approaching the crematorium assuming that this is his death march, he is able to keep his composure to prove his courage to the reader as well as his father “I bit my lips so that my father would not hear my teeth chattering. Ten more steps. ” (Wiesel 33) These conditions that one see’s Elie live through are themselves character descriptions because of his reactions. The Nazi personnel in Night can without doubt be placed into a category of their own evil.
Though their acts as a whole are unforgivable, some Nazis showed sympathy as well as regret and remorse towards the imprisoned Jewish population. The German generals were fierce and mean. They were portrayed as generally evil. There were on the other hand some of which that had heart. The young general that took care of Elie’s brigade for a period time was a very fierce man who was ruthless and did not car of the lives of the men of whom he watched. At one point, he has a guardian who is a large unhealthy man. This guard was friendly and personable rather than hateful.
Treating him with respect got you respect in return, he was a true character. Although he was a Nazi, which means in turn he was part of the problem, he helped the Jewish as much as he could. Elie proved this character’s importance by including specific details and actions that the man took. Once again it is the immense amount of description used by Elie as the author that helps distinguish where each character fits on the scale of good to evil. Elie’s use of detailed description is one of the main customs he uses to place the characters on the scale of good and bad.
During the time spent suffering in the encampment the reader learns many things regarding Elie’s father. He is one of the most described characters because he is Elie’s father. One can easily distinguish that he is a brave man who is willing to fight for his life; he is a loving parent and is willing to do anything to protect his son. The reader is educated of this throughout the novel by experiencing first hand the character developments just as Elie did during his trials of life. Elie’s father, Shlomo is also a transitional character.
Towards the end of their journey through German concentration camps, he begins to lose home. He becomes aged and ill; Elie is forced to take care of him or else he would face death. This section of the book where Elie is taking care of him is a description both of Elie himself and of his father. It shows that even a brave hearted soul can fail during rough times; it also shows that courage may also pull through any obstacle. Despite his conditions, Elie is capable of watching over his father like an angel would.
Even the slightest or even subliminal details help shape the individuals during Night. Every sentence written in Night in some way describes someone or something. When Elie mentions that his group stood in silence as a boy is hung as punishment for nearly nothing, this arises a mix of emotions from the readers. One could unconsciously assume that everyone has lost their heart and sense of what is right and wrong; but there are other things to consider. These are things that Elie has written, to explain to the reader who has not been in the holocaust.
It is not an easy object to explain to a non-comprehending audience. He is able to clarify specific reason for certain emotion only because of his informational style of writing. When the boy is hung, nothing can be done. Any movement, or sign of discontent will earn nothing but a shot in the head, or perhaps a hanging of one’s own. The true emotions of the watching Jews are those of hate, fear, and the proper form of courage. Bravery is what is most needed in the situations that Elie depicts while on his journey of survival.
The Jews who have not become ill or insane know that now is not the time to be brave by fighting back, but by simply surviving. Without Elie’s heavy descriptive writing one would not understand the complexity of each character’s significance in the novel. Although it is written about a true event with exact detail, each character or person possesses qualities that Elie takes the responsibility of explaining to the audience throughout the events that take place. “We had to go to the depot. This sudden enthusiasm for work astonished us.
At the depot, Idek enrusted us to Franek…” (Wiesel 56) This sentence proves that even with two simple lines Wiesel is able to accurately describe many individuals; himself, the SS Guards, and his fellow prisoners. During an interview by Alexander Cockburn consisting of the truthful versus fictional elements of Night, Eli Pfefferkorn, a man who also lived the holocaust; gives his opinion on the hanging scene of which he was present for. “On the whole, Halbereich’s testimony is in agreement with Wiesel’s narrative, and differs only in one minor detail.
But this is an inconsequential disagreement that does not change the substance of the hanging story. What does affect it, however, is the age of one of the condemned, as given by Wiesel. And the age of the condemned is the crux of the matter. ” (Cockburn 8) Pfefferkorn is explaining the significance of the lost or changed details of the actual hanging of the young boy. If Wiesel hadn’t changed what he had ultimately revised, it would adversely affect the way the reader perceives the characters in Night.
The change in the story that was made does not alter the true moral of the lesson, but merely aids in displaying the character traits of the hundreds upon hundreds of watching Jews. It shows how they can prove to be good, rather than turn to the evil side during times of anguish. A dominant theme in the novel is Elie’s struggle to persist in his faith of a God. Right through the story once the nightmares begin, the reader is often found reading quotes of men that are questioning God, wondering why he is not helping them.
Often the reader is found with the line “Where is God now? ” as well as other God discriminating lines. This is a repeated quote, which notably disturbs Elie. It is this key point of the story that proves to the reader Elie’s courage as well as bravery, and every other emotion that will help him survive rather than give up. Without Elie’s intense description and attention to detail, one would become entrenched in a sea of complex emotions with no direction as to who is truly good and who is truly evil, or faithless.
By making minor alterations of the truth, as well as themes of religion and determination, Wiesel is able to fully envelop the audience into the story; creating a better sense of a awareness towards the spectrum of good and bad of which the characters stand upon. Bibliography; Cockburn, Alexander. “Elie Wiesel’s ‘Night’ A Fraud? ” Jeff Rense Program. 6 Jan. 2006. Web. 29 Dec. 2010. <http://www. rense. com/general70/elie. htm>. SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on Night. ” SparkNotes. com. SparkNotes LLC. 2002. Web. 16 Dec. 2010. Wiesel, Elie. Night. New York: Bantam, 1982. Print.