Firstly, I want to quickly explain my feature image known as the “Creation of Adam” by Michelangelo (made in 1511- 1512). Artwork in itself has many different interpretations (just like written works as well). It symbolizes the importance of the relationship between God and humanity, seen by God reaching out to Adam. One can assume that the supreme being is extending his arm out to Adam to give him life. This may lead one to believe that without God there is no humankind.
Throughout the novel Night, author Elie Wiesel introduces the idea of one’s moral and religious beliefs being challenged as a result of extreme, unfortunate circumstances. Best illustrated by Eliezer constantly questioning the means of God throughout the novel. Disasters naturally bring out the best or worst in individuals. It strips you right to the core, leaving one alone with their true self. Alone, and in most cases, confronting their true values. One can assume that as a result, you gain a deeper understanding of yourself as well as life in general.
At the beginning of the novel, it is evident that Elie was a very religious Jew.
“By day I studied Talmud and by night I would run to the synagogue to weep over the destruction of the temple.” (pg. 3)
Tangibly, one can determine that Elie was very religious indeed; considering that his religion was something that occupied his mind day and night. However, he loses that passion when he, and thousands of others, are forcibly put into concentration camps. During difficult times many tend to question why these unfortunate events happen to occur. There is no plausible explanation that grants such terrible acts to exist on our planet. Being forced to concentration camps along with the abuse he endured, lead him to question why he was supporting someone who condones such vile acts, evidently seen by the quote,
“Why, but why would I bless Him?… Because He caused thousands of children to burn in His mass graves?” (pg. 67)
The topic of God (or religion in general) is something many avoid to question, but rather to seek an answer in. Eliezer asking God tough questions as well as challenging his beliefs, displays how this miserable time in history has already driven him to confront his religion, something he once was extremely affectionate about. Unable to find an answer, he loses his connection with God entirely.
Personally, I too have found myself questioning my religious beliefs in a period of pain and suffering. I grew up with a Muslim mother and a Catholic father. Furthermore, I attended a Catholic school for the majority of my elementary years. I went to church irregularly since my family was not extremely religious due to the fact that they did share the same faith. In general, I never fully believed in what either told me about religion. More specifically, I did not believe that a demiurge existed. I believed in science. What hurt me the most though, is no matter how hard I tried to believe; I just couldn’t. I find it beautiful how some people can have 100% trust in something. Trust that everything is going to be okay. Trust that there is an afterlife dependent on your choices. To have that much love and comfort towards something sounds amazing, and my inability to form this connection with something millions of people look up to – broke my heart.
Thus came a time when I was not the happiest person alive. Grade seven was a difficult year for me considering that one of my best friends left my school, and I wasn’t in any of my other friend’s classes. Along with that, I became more aware of serious world issues through books and media as I found more and more solitude. Learning this at a young age and being unable to fully comprehend it, I felt as though all of the issues of the world were laid upon my shoulders. I constantly thought as though life was full of pain. I realized that millions of people suffer every day in dire circumstances for no apparent reason. Why do people kill others? Why doesn’t everyone have food? Why are we constantly harming the environment? There was no answer. Much like Elie, I questioned my God during my melancholic times. Although I never fully believed in a God, there was still a little part of me that had some faith due to my upbringing; but once again I questioned it when times got difficult. How could anyone allow this to occur? Why did God create a world filled with so much pain and suffering, and just allow it to happen? Consequently, I decided to abandon my religion, as I found no answers, and “felt a great void opening.” (pg. 69)
One can now determine that a product of unfortunate circumstances would be the questioning of an individual’s faith or in the novel Night, the abandonment of faith entirely. There will always be some questions that remain unanswered regardless if a person is religious or not. Nevertheless, curiosity is essential to the human race- without it, many people would lack a purpose. Our world may not be very equitable and everyone has to go through unjust situations at one point or another. However, it is important to realize that we learn more about ourselves in these tough situations. We, as humans, gain an understanding of what is truly important to us and who we really are deep inside.
Featured Image (The Creation of Adam – Michelangelo): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Creation_of_Adam
Information on The Creation of Adam: http://www.italianrenaissance.org/michelangelo-creation-of-adam/
Jewish People Praying: https://www.timesofisrael.com/for-the-first-time-auschwitz-guides-taught-to-teach-about-jews-spiritual-resistance/