Essay Example on the Relationship Between Memory and Identity in Wiesel's Night

Published: 2022-12-02
Essay Example on the Relationship Between Memory and Identity in Wiesel's Night
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Concentration camps Night
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1348 words
12 min read

"Night" is a book by Elie Wiesel which describes the experiences of the author when he was living in concentration during the second world war. Wiesel was fifteen years during this period, and he wrote the book ten years after gaining these experiences in the camps, in the company of his father. The central theme in the book is the loss of identity. Weisel went to the concentration camp as a teenager boy, and he believed in the Jewish faith. After staying in the camps for a considerable period, the Nazis began stripping away his identity, and his hair was shaved and dressed like a prisoner. A number instead of a name would denote him. He later loses his innocence after seeing various horrific events such as babies been killed. He feels that God had forsaken the Jews. The author states that he experienced a very tough time after his faith deteriorated. The essay is a discussion of the identity theme and its impact on certain groups in contemporary society which are struggling to maintain an identity while undergoing violence and oppression.

Trust banner

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

Elie Wiesel highlights that he loses himself as he progresses from the ghetto to the cattle cars and the concentration camps. He loses his faith when he sees the dehumanization of Jews. He experiences a lot of pain, physical and mental abuse with his father. The author`s health starts deteriorating when he gets confined in the camps, and this reduces his chances of survival (Wiesel 11). Wiesel states that when an individual is denied the fundamental necessities of life such as food, water, and security, the loss of humanity and individualism completes itself.

The concepts from the book present an important lesson about identity by indicating that the personality and individuality of an individual is disrupted after he or she losses his convictions about certain things in life. The identity is also disrupted when the daily routine is adversely affected. For example, Wiesel`s identity changed due to the lack of food, water and security, which he could easily before going to the concentration camps. Guilt is also a cause of loss of identity. The long-term suffering of the author while in the camps caused him to suffer from a lot of guilt that subsequently causes him to feel that his father is a burden (Wiesel 65). When a person loses a close friend or family his or her identity is significantly affected. For example, when Wiesel`s father dies without the author`s knowledge, he loses his identity to the extent where all he wanted to do is to eat and stay alive.

The book, "Hispanics, Latinos or Americanos: The Evolution of Identity" by Lilian Comas-Diaz also addresses the concept of ethnic identity. The author categorizes various terms which are used to designate the Latino population. She also denotes the specific names which are used to indicate the distinct groups of the US (Comas-Diaz 115). She notes that the Hispanic people have a plural identity in their ethnic names, which are appropriate in the contemporary world but they may turn out to be obsolete in the future.

The concepts from the book imply that the mediating elements in self-designation are attaining a voice and power which enables a person to name one`s identity and denote their reality (Comas-Diaz 117). In the contemporary world, the ethnic minority groups of the US are referred to using multiple names which do not cover the whole ethnic group. This can be connected with the concepts in Wiesel`s book where the minority communities are always oppressed and suppressed by the dominating people of a particular region. For example, the Hispanic people have plural identities in their ethnic names but this trend will be obsolete in the future because this culture is not identified by the dominant communities of the US. This shows that it is difficult for people who of different ethnic backgrounds to fully uphold their identity, cultures and traditions while living within other major communities.

"Sites of Terror and the Role of Memory in Shaping Identity Among First Generation Descendants of the Holocaust" is an article by Janet Jacobs. The article explores how the transmission of memory at the Nazi sites of terror influenced the construction of the Holocaust descendant identity. The author uses a qualitative study which is composed of 50 children of the Holocaust survivors (Janet 28). Also, the article examines the cooperative nature of Holocaust identification in the children of the survivors. The results show that the interaction of Holocaust sites strengthens the descendant identity formation through anxiety, fear, an evocation of feelings of sorrow and empathic connections between the children of the survivors and their parents.

The concepts of the book indicate that the identity of a particular person or community can be built on various foundations including fear and sorrow. For example, the Holocaust people formed their identity on the foundation of fear between the fear that existed between the children of the survivors and their parents. This implies that identity can be rooted from a deep cultural and historical background. The concepts can also be linked with Wiesel`s findings about identity where Wiesel formed his identity according to his religious background.

Past events can influence the present identity to leave a lasting mark. Identity revolves around the question of who are you and what does it mean to be who you are. It connects the fundamental value of an individual and the choices they make. Most people do not choose their identities. Instead, they personalize them from certain past events or internalize them from their parents and other dominant cultures and habits such as the pursuit for power and better appearance (Eyerman 5). However, the values may not be aligned to the true nature of a person, and this causes an unfulfilling life. Our personal beliefs and needs are crucial factors which govern people`s behavior and identity.

People collect information from the environment and form certain beliefs based on the gathered information. For example, in the context of Wiesel`s story, the author was a firm Jewish believer before going to the concentration camps. This implies that he was raised in an environment where people believed in the Jewish religion, and they encouraged young people to embrace the same religious culture (Eyerman 7). When the author went to the concentration camps, he experienced various events that caused him to change his mind about his religion. He experienced scenarios where babies were killed, people tortured and his father was also killed while in the camps. Wiesel and other Jews in the camp had the belief that God would save them from the wrong environment and free them to a safer place. When the sufferings continued, some of them lost their faith in God. Therefore, past events have a significant impact on the identity of a person since they guide their beliefs and actions.

The convictions which people form in their childhood and teenage years make up their core beliefs. They are difficult to change, but it is not impossible. The convictions which people develop later in life are less rigid, and they can be changed easily unlike those that are formed in the childhood and teenage years (Eyerman 13). This explains why it was difficult for Wiesel to change his beliefs about the Jewish religion, unlike the adult Jews who lost their religious beliefs soon as they were brought to the concentration camps. Convictions are modified in several steps which start from being conscious of the beliefs and shaping the personality. After identifying the firm beliefs, people reflect on their past to understand why they formed their convictions. Permanent change is then achieved by identifying the beliefs that should be changed and then transforming to the desired personality.

Works Cited

Comas-Diaz, Lillian. "Hispanics, Latinos, or Americanos: The evolution of identity." Cultural diversity and ethnic minority psychology 7.2 (2001): 115.

Eyerman, Ron. "Introduction: Identity, Memory, and Trauma." Memory, Trauma, and Identity. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2019. 1-19.Jacobs, Janet. "Sites of terror and the role of memory in shaping identity among first-generation descendants of the Holocaust." Qualitative Sociology 37.1 (2014): 27-42.

Wiesel, Elie. Night. Vol. 55. Macmillan, 2006.

Cite this page

Essay Example on the Relationship Between Memory and Identity in Wiesel's Night. (2022, Dec 02). Retrieved from

Request Removal

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the SpeedyPaper website, please click below to request its removal:

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism