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Figurative Language In Elie Wiesel's 'Night'

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Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." Hope and an optimistic attitude are characteristics of a rational and humane mindset. Documenting how these ideals change throughout a period of time in writing can be done through various means of rhetoric including figurative language. In Elie Wiesel 's personal memoir Night, he incorporates similes and metaphors to effectively convey how the victims ' humanity deteriorated throughout the course of the Holocaust.

Wiesel 's figurative language at the beginning of the novel conveys how the Jewish people followed commendable politesse and practiced reasonable behavior early on in the Holocaust. An example of this is when anti-Jewish laws
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Wiesel begins to use darker comparisons as the novel progresses, which begin to document how circumstances were changing and negatively affecting victims. An instance of this is when he describes the hangings that he witnessed, upon which he reflects that the soup tasted like corpses that evening (Wiesel 72). Wiesel uses this comparison to depict one of the most gruesome scenes throughout the book, which symbolizes how these horrific events had such a great impact on him. He conveys how the hangings affected him by addressing how this event lingered on his mind for prolonged periods of time. In addition, another example where Wiesel 's figurative language marks a decline in optimism is when the victims must decide whether or not to fast during Yom Kippur, but Wiesel states that due to the food rations at the camps, "The whole year was Yom Kippur" (Wiesel 76). Comparing a religious fast to purposeful food deprivation displays the negative attitude that Wiesel is building towards his own religion. This shifting mindset displays how the Holocaust had a negative impact on ideals close to the victims ' personalities. A third example of the Holocaust 's negative impact is when Wiesel recalls Juliek playing the violin in the middle of the night, where he could only hear, "the violin, and it was as though Juliek 's soul were the bow. (Wiesel 100). In this scene, Juliek displays defiance of the Nazi authorities by playing his violin, which shows a new resistant attitude towards…show more content…
Towards the end of the novel, Wiesel 's use of figurative comparisons displays how behavior became more inhumane and conditions worsened as circumstances became increasingly dire. An example of this is when the Germans throw bread around for the victims to scramble and eat and relates the men 's behavior to, "Wild beasts of prey, with animal hatred in their eyes;…" (Wiesel 105). Wiesel implies that the victims have been so deprived of nutrition that they have no regard for human etiquette. This shift in nature from acting tactfully to behaving like wild animals signifies that the victims have lost their sense of humanity. Additionally, Wiesel conveys how circumstances were challenging when his father fell ill and had, "become like a child, weak, timid, vulnerable" (Wiesel 110). By comparing his father to a weak child, Wiesel shows how the inhumane living conditions were affecting the victims. Father figures are usually associated with great strength and might; to contradict this by considering his dad to be vulnerable shows how Wiesel depicts the egregious conditions in the camps. A third example where Wiesel depicts a shift from rational behavior is when his father is ill and asks for a cup of coffee, so Wiesel makes his way to the coffee table, "Like a wild beast" (Wiesel 111). Towards the end of the novel, Wiesel makes multiple allusions to how people began acting like animals and beasts. This suggests that the savagery is palpable among the victims in these
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