Night New Criticism: Symbolism
Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, wrote of his experiences in a particular fashion, unlike the usual memoirs. He used many literary devices in Night to increase the reader’s understanding of his perspective during the course of the book. One literary element that Wiesel uses frequently is symbolism. Symbolism is the use of objects, characters, figures, or colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts. Elie’s father symbolizes hope, faith represents desire to live and, fire signifies death. Elie Wiesel uses symbolism in Night to enhance the audience’s comprehension of his intentions and perception of meaning.
In the beginning of the book, Elie has strong faith in God and the integrity of people (Maas). After he has endured a great deal of pain, his faith deteriorates. This directly corresponds with his desire to live. In the beginning, Elie still has his will to live and he tries his hardest to stay alive. By the end, he has totally lost this aspiration to exist. When Elie loses faith, he no longer concerns himself with whether he lives or dies. Without the assurance of God’s security, he considers his life to be meaningless. Most of the people in the concentration camp start with “much hope, most of it based on the...belief in the innate goodness of people and a strong faith in God's protection” (Maas). As soon as their faith perishes, they only live to wait for death. Lacking devotion to God, Elie dies emotionally and mentally, so he lives only physically. He no longer has humane morality. Hence, Elie’s faith symbolizes his desire to live.
Fire appears frequently in the book and usually corresponds with death. On the way to the concentration camp, one nonsensical woman screams “Look! Look at this fire! This terrible fire! Have mercy on me!” with the implication that she foresees the death to come (Wiesel 25). When the inmates see the fire from the crematorium, they know that they are in danger of being thrown in....