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What are the conflicts in Night?

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In the book Night, one can distinguish several types of conflicts, internal and external. The internal conflict includes the infighting of the protagonist – man vs. self. The external conflicts of the novel are man vs. man, man vs. society, and man vs. nature.

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The events of Elie Wiesel‘s novel Night are developing against the background of a global conflict – World War II. The book’s protagonist and his family are Jews who get into concentration camps. Internal and external conflicts accompany the struggle for survival in the violent conditions of the Holocaust. Eliezer survives towards the end of the war. However, his soul and body are tormented by these conflicts, and he is no longer an innocent child.

  • Man vs. self. There are two main internal conflicts that the protagonist of the novel experiences. They are doubts about God and the contradiction of caring for himself and his father at the same time.
    • Faith is crucial for the boy – before the war, he studies sacred books. However, when he sees the horrors of Auschwitz, his understanding of the Lord is destroyed. Eliezer cannot realize how God is merciful if there is such genocide of Jews. The boy does not lose faith as one might assume but wonders if God is really good and fair.
    • Taking care of the father requires considerable effort, which is not enough due to hunger. Blockalteste gives the boy advice to forget about family ties and only care about his own survival. Eliezer feels the burden, but he is ashamed of such thoughts. However, in the end, the boy still lacks the strength to be with his father in his final minutes. Eliezer’s father dies a few months before the war ends, and the protagonist is relieved. Such feelings may seem inappropriate, but it is the harsh truth of concentration camps.
  • Man vs. man. The concentration camps’ conditions make people who got there follow instincts and not feelings or humanism. The overseers constantly attack the captives of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. Prisoners also fight among themselves for the crumbs of food that are allocated to them. Those who used to be friends, and even relatives, can attack, beat, or even kill. The described events make readers wonder how the protagonist can last so long and even care for his father.
  • Man vs. society. Nazi Germany persecuted and destroyed the Jewish people. About six million Jews fell victim to the Holocaust. The young protagonist of the novel Night finds it difficult to believe that the Germans can simply kill a large number of people. However, as soon as Eliezer gets to the camp, he is separated from his mother and sister. Moreover, the boy sees many brutal murders.
  • Man vs. nature. Since the Nazis do not spare their captives, they also do not care about their living conditions. An example of a conflict with nature in the novel is the march of Jews during the transition to another camp. The Nazis are forced to retreat and move their captives to Buchenwald. Jews have to walk part of the path through the snow without stopping.

Wiesel developed all four conflicts described above in his book Night. Internal conflicts occur in the thoughts and feelings of the protagonist. External conflicts – with men, society, and nature – create circumstances that provoke internal ones. Conflicts present difficulties and challenges Eliezer faces. Conflicts present difficulties and challenges Eliezer faces. All conflicts help to reveal the novel’s themes, such as violence, people’s struggle for survival, and the strength of family ties.

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