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Character Sketch Of Elie Wiesel's Night

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Elie Wiesel’s novel Night is required reading in just about every sophomore English class

in the country. The novel, along with a lifetime of humanitarian work, earned Wiesel the Nobel

Peace Prize in 1986. Night is one of the most powerful depictions we have of the Jewish

experience of the Holocaust; a work carefully crafted to achieve Wiesel’s ultimate purpose: to

bear witness to the atrocities and allow the reader to feel the suffering of the Jews and of millions

of others so that in identifying with these characters, the truth seeps into the bone marrow of the

reader and fires a determination to do whatever is necessary that atrocities like this never happen

again.

Wiesel opens the novel with a character sketch of Moshe the Beadle.
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Wiesel is careful to draw us a

complete picture of Moshe: what he is like physically, socially, and psychologically both before

and after the Nazis have gotten hold of him. This allows him to achieve all of the
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As such, it is to Moshe that the main character, Elie, turns for spiritual leadership.

Rebuffed in his quest to study the mystical teachings of the cabbala, Elie seeks out Moshe, who

teaches Elie the secrets of true faith, tenets Elie carries with him throughout the course of the

novel. Moshe tells Elie; “I pray to God that he would give me the strength to ask him questions,”

(pg. 3). Moshe is the opposite of the dogma-driven bigot. To him, faith is asking questions,

seeking: once you think you have answers, you’ve lost your faith. Psychologically, Moshe is a

seeker, a man of faith. This places him squarely in a long line of characters honored in literature

and culture from the beginnings of civilization as we know it.

The portrait Wiesel paints of Moshe is a compelling one: a physically clown-like,

unimposing, deeply spiritual being, we as readers are drawn to him, we like him. This serves

Wiesel’s ultimate purpose well. When we see the havoc the Nazis wreak on Moshe in all three of

these carefully drawn arenas, it is a powerful blow. A reader can’t help but see how heinous
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