by Elie Wiesel
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Night is used throughout the book to symbolize death, darkness of the soul, and loss of faith. As an image, it comes up repeatedly. Even when the scene is literally set during the day, night may be invoked. Consider all the terrible things that happen at night: Mrs. Schächter has her visions of fire, hell, and death; Eliezer and his father arrive at Auschwitz and see the smokestacks and wait in line all night long with the smell of death in their noses; there is the night the soup tastes like corpses; they march through long nights and, stacked on top of each other, smother each other to death in the night; Eliezer’s father dies during the night. As Eliezer says himself, "The days were like nights, and the nights left the dregs of their darkness in our souls" (7.22). Night is thus a metaphor for the way the soul was submerged in suffering and hopelessness.