Elie Wiesel's Night is an essential read for any classroom, as it guides students through the harrowing experiences in a concentration camp during World War II. Before starting this memoir, students should have considerable background information on the Holocaust. An overview of Judaism, including the basic religious teachings and significant holidays will also benefit students.

While reading, your class can discuss why the Jews of Sighet were reluctant to heed warnings about the German army. They can examine how the German plan and initial actions of the SS could allow the townspeople to remain in denial about concentration camps and executions. Class discussion can also focus on how Eliezer's relationship to his father and his faith in God change during his time in the concentration camp. After finishing the book, students can analyze the significance of the title, keeping in mind that in Jewish tradition a new day begins at nightfall.

1. Summarize Night

Based on Elie Wiesel's experiences, Night is narrated by Eliezer, a Jewish teenager living in Sighet. In 1941, his religious instructor, Moishe, is taken away by Hungarian police but escapes and returns to warn the village of the Gestapo killing Jews; however, the people will not listen. In 1944, the Germans force the Jews of Sighet to wear yellow stars and live in ghettos. Eliezer and his family are transported to Auschwitz in cattle cars and he and his father are separated from his mother and sisters. As he suffers in the concentration camp, Eliezer loses faith in humanity and God. When the Soviet army approaches, the prisoners are taken on a death march to Buchenwald, where his father dies three months before American soldiers liberate the camp.

Content Warning: Night contains violence.

2. Identify Objectives for Teaching Night:

  • State the significance of the title Night and point out what the term symbolizes.
  • Recognize the cunning of the SS methods that, when coupled with the human need to feel optimistic in the face of danger, led the Jews of Sighet to cooperate in their own destruction.
  • Point out how Wiesel's style and use of irony in this narrative is unlike the style found in most first-person memoirs.
  • Comment on how the author uses symbols and imagery to convey ideas and paint vivid pictures for the reader.
  • Recognize how a survivor of the Holocaust can be irrevocably changed by witnessing such horrific events.
  • Infer from the text where the author believes that the guilt and responsibility for the Holocaust lies.

3. Pinpoint Key Facts and Literary Elements

Key Facts

  • Length: 120 pages
  • Lexile Measure: 570
  • Publication Date: 1960
  • Recommended Grade Band: 9 – 10
  • New York Times Bestseller
  • Oprah's Book Club Pick

Literary Elements

  • Figurative Language
  • Foreshadowing
  • Imagery
  • Irony
  • Metaphor
  • Paradox
  • Personification
  • Simile
  • Symbol

4. Understand Themes and Motifs

  • Loss of Faith — Students witness the narrator's journey from being completely devoted to God at the beginning, to feeling abandoned and forsaken by the end.
  • Survival — Eliezer and the other people in the concentration camps must find the strength within themselves to survive their suffering.
  • Man's Inhumanity to Man —  Wiesel depicts the horrors the Nazis inflict on the Jews and the silent complicity of German citizens.

5. Explore Related Works

Theme of Loss of Faith

Theme of Survival

Theme of Man's Inhumanity to Man

6. Employ Films and Other External Resources

7. Consider What Your Students Will Love

  • The first-person account of historical events
  • The figurative language and strong, detailed writing

8. Anticipate What Your Students May Struggle With

  • The detached narrator
  • The serious subject matter of the Holocaust and the innumerable deaths caused by it; students may grapple with the overwhelming awareness of death.

9. Order Night Resources from Prestwick House:

Resource Format
Night Paperback Student Edition
Night Teaching Unit Reproducible Downloadable 30-Book Set
Night AP Teaching Unit Reproducible Downloadable 30-Book Set
Night Activity Pack Reproducible Downloadable 30-Book Set
Night Response Journal Reproducible Downloadable 30-Book Set
Night Levels of Understanding Reproducible Downloadable 30-Book Set
Night Complete Teacher's Kit Reproducible Downloadable 30-Book Set

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