Characters make up the main story of a literary work. They convey the author’s ideas, beliefs, and relationships of the world as well as of the human beings around them. The characters of the novel, Night by Eli Wiesel not only present his sense of helplessness in Auschwitz’s concentration camp but also shows his disgust at human nature and the idea of God witnessing horrors. Some of the major characters in Night have been discussed below.
Characters in Night
Eliezer Wiesel is the author and the protagonist of this fictionalized autobiography. His narrative is subjective, highly touching and personal. He gives the account of the Holocaust and its incidents, which he had personally experienced in his teens. At first, he was an extremely religious person. As a teen, Eliezer was also dedicated and positive until the Holocaust. Later, he becomes numb. He even ignores his dying father to save himself. During his life as a prisoner, he sees people questioning the very existence of God. Eventually, he becomes a doubter when he sees a child at the gallows. The entire experience at the concentration camp forces him to lose his faith in humanity and God. Later, he is seen as a transformed young man who cares for his survival.
Eliezer’s father, Shlomo Wiesel, is a respected shopkeeper in the town of Sighet. He is the first person to refuse deportation from Sighet and asks his community members to wait for the time. As he grows weaker, Shlomo’s patience and health decline at the concentration camps. Though he had crossed most of the barriers where life and death have equal chances, he becomes weak during his last march to Gleitwitz due to dysentery. He dies, asking for water. Elie doesn’t help him due to fear. However, the love of the father can be witnessed by his last word. He calls his son when the SS officer is about to throw him in a trench.
Moishe the Beadle
Moishe has lasting impacts on the other characters, especially Eliezer. His first commitment to Kabbalah mysticism attracts Jews toward him to have firm faith in Judaism. However, his words stay with Eliezer and become a central thematic idea. He talks about God’s omnipresence and interrogation of religion through questioning. That is why Eliezer, his chief disciple, seems us questioning during the genocide. The impact of his teachings appears in the shape of the worst religiosity of Eliezer as faithlessness.
Madame Schaechter is a crying and wailing woman who predicts the tragedy awaiting the Jews after reaching the camps in Auschwitz. Eliezer and other people hear her screaming for a few more days. She is separated from her husband and two other sons. Madame Schaechter screams because she might have had a premonition or hallucination about the gas chambers. She claims she saw a fire chamber at a distance. The young people of the train often beat her to keep her mouth shut, but she doesn’t stop screaming.
Dr. Mengele is a monocle-wearing man. He is known as the cruelest doctor selected to put the Jews to death. He would also send them to farms for work after inspecting their health. In other words, his selection process decides the fate of the Jews whether they are to live or to go to the crematory. A typical Nazi officer, Dr. Mengele demonstrates true coldness and authoritative behavior during his selection process.
The young boy or young Pipel was working for the Oberkapo. He was arrested on the charges of sabotage on the power plant in Buna. However, he did not divulge any name during a grueling investigation for which he was sent to Auschwitz. At first, he was put into confinement. Later, the innocent child was sent to gallows. His hanging body impacted Eliezer so much that he lost faith in God.
Meir Katz is Shlomo Wiesel’s friend at Buna. They both are assigned to the work of taking care of the garden. As he works in the vegetable section. Because of the task, he got an opportunity to eat them as well. Meir becomes stronger than others. He also becomes a benefactor of Eliezer, when they are moving to Buchenwald. Later he dies after he gives way to excessive barbarism.
Martha was a non-Jewish servant of Eliezer’s family when they lived in Sighet. However, when they were being moved to a ghetto, Martha comes to offer shelter to the family. However, to protect her, the elder Wiesel refuses to escape or take her help.
Stein of Antwerp
Stein of Antwerp is Eliezer’s maternal cousin. Eliezer met them at Auschwitz when he was looking for his family at the concentration camp. In order to console him, Eliezer lies that he has seen his family. However, Stein comes to know that his family died at the camp.
Juliek appears in Buna at one of the crematoria of the Jews. He plays the music that helps a few victims to forget the onslaught of death for a while. He appears again at Gleiwitz when Eliezer finds him dead with his violin broken.