Night Discussion Questions
1. Talk about how the Nazis' program of persecution against the Jewish people in Sighet was carried out in gradual steps (p. 9). First, the German officers moved into private homes. They closed the synagogues. They arrested leaders of the Jewish community, forbade the Jews from owning any valuables under penalty of death, and forced them to wear the Star of David on their clothes. Jews no longer had the right to frequent restaurants, to travel by train, to attend synagogue, or to be on the streets after 6 o'clock in the evening. Then, they were forced to leave their homes and move into designated ghettos. And from the ghettos, the Jews were deported to the concentration camps. How do you think the Jews felt as the persecution escalated? Why do you think they followed the Germans' rules? Should they have stood up? Would you have reacted differently?
2. On p. 23, Wiesel describes a scene familiar to anyone who has sat in the back of a movie theater: "Freed of normal constraints, some of the young let go of their inhibitions and, under cover of darkness, caressed one another, without any thought of others, alone in the world." How does the shadow of Nazi terror transform the ordinary moments Wiesel describes?
3. When Eliezer sees his father being beaten with an iron bar, he keeps silent and thinks of "stealing away" so he won't have to watch what's happening (p. 54). Instead of directing his anger at the Kapo, he becomes mad at his father. What do you think is really going on inside of Eliezer? Who is he really mad at?
4. In his 1986 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Wiesel says: "[O]ne person of integrity can make a difference, a difference of life and death. As long as one dissident is in prison, our freedom will not be true. As long as one child is hungry, our life will be filled with anguish and shame. What all these victims need above all is to know that they are not alone; that we are not forgetting them, that when their voices are stifled we shall lend them ours, that while their freedom depends on ours, the quality of our freedom depends on theirs" (p. 120). Think of conflicts and wars you've studied in your history or social studies classes at school. How does this statement make you feel about your place in the world?
5. When Night begins, Eliezer is so moved by faith that he weeps when he prays—but he is only 12 years old. How does Eliezer's relationship with his faith and with God change as the book progresses? When the book ends, he is 16 years old. How would you describe him?
6. At which points did you identify with Eliezer? Who did you identify with most in Night?
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