How we cite our quotes:
He closed his eyes, as if to escape time.
"You don't understand," he said in despair. "You cannot understand. I was saved miraculously. I succeeded in coming back. Where did I get my strength? I wanted to return to Sighet to describe to you my death so that you might ready yourselves while there is still time. Life? I no longer care to live. I am alone. But I wanted to come back to warn you. Only no one is listening to me …" (1.37-38)
There’s more than one kind of death; though he is still physically alive, Moishe has experienced a death of the spirit and the soul through his torture at the hands of the Nazis. Yet he hopes to save others from this living death.
My father’s view was that it was not all bleak, or perhaps he just did not want to discourage the others, to throw salt on their wounds:
"The yellow star? So what? It’s not lethal …"
(Poor Father! Of what then did you die?) (1.73-75)
People’s racial identity becomes their death (or the marker of death), as symbolized by the yellow star.
Open rooms everywhere. Gaping doors and windows looked out into the void. It all belonged to everyone since it no longer belonged to anyone. It was there for the taking. An open tomb. (1.137)
Wiesel describes the emptying of the Jewish ghetto in language descriptive of death – which is what it was, literally.