Silence Perpetuates Violence In Elie Wiesel's Night

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“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented” (BrainyQuote, Elie Wiesel). In life, doing what your enemy wants only encourages them to pay more attention to you, whether it is by violence or speaking down about you. Sometimes staying silent can save one’s abuse; however, sometimes it can also be the opposite way around. Although there are times when silence leads to violence in the graphic novel Maus by Art Spiegelman and the memoir Night by Elie Wiesel, there are also instances in which speaking out perpetuates violence. In Night, silence perpetuates violence at first.…show more content…
Vladek explains to Art about having to survive during WW2 as a Polish Jew undercover, having to pretend to be German in order to pass by. In the novel, Vladek tells Art about the tough living conditions before being transported to a concentration camp. He had to buy from the black market in order to get enough food for himself, his wife, and his child. “ ‘Cohn had a dry goods store. He was known over all Sosnowiec… I traded also with Pfefer, a fine young man -- a Zionist… His wife ran screaming in the street. I was frightened to go outside for a few days’ ” (Spiegelman 83-84). Vladek used to trade or buy from Cohn and Pfefer, and since they got caught, he was afraid that he might be next. He isolated himself for a few days and stayed inside, hoping that no one would suspect his close acquaintance with either of them. This shows how Jews being silent and secretive in order to survive could lead to violence, or even death, if caught. Cohn and Pfefer were left hanging in the streets for a whole week, to let the other Jews know what could happen to them if they were caught dealing or buying from the black market. However, the black market was sometimes the only way for Jews to survive; they needed food to live. They had to risk their life in order to survive. Furthermore, when Art is again interviewing his father, he asks about Vladek’s family helping him out with money; he asks why they would not help him with buying food or paying for anything. “ ‘Wouldn’t they have helped you even if you couldn’t pay? I mean, you were from the same family…’ ‘Hah! You don’t understand… At that time it wasn’t anymore families. It was everybody to take care for himself!’ ” (Spiegelman 114). Vladek explains that since living condition were so hard for all Jews, that it was now every man for himself. Family no longer mattered; it was hard enough to just keep yourself alive, nevermind your cousins or
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