I don’t know who I am.
When I was younger I was all-knowing in the aspects of myself. Any and every question was always met with a distinct, to the point answer. I always knew. Until I didn’t. It happened slowly, but yet so quick. My self-identity went from distinct, to uncertain. I no longer knew who I was, when I looked in the mirror I could no longer recognize the person who stared back at me.
Throughout most of the novel night, I was apathetic towards Elie. But when chapter 9 came, Elie’s words resonated within me, “From the depths of the mirror, a corpse was contemplating me.” (115). I, too, see a corpse. Sometimes I look at myself for just a fraction of a second too long and the face that stares back at me haunts me like a nightmare. My own reflection scares me.
It feels like I’m stuck. Suspended. Ropes of the versions of myself I could have become from each potential life path digging into my wrists and ankles. My throat, my elbows, my waist. I am bound at each and every place I can be bound. But there is no yank, nor pull; I am simply stuck, no room for control. All around me it is dark. I try to think of who I am, but I am met with nothing. I feel forced, my brain doesn’t want to move but my muscles know I have to. All I want is relief. All I want is sense. All I want is for the numbness and cold to end. When did I morph from my all-knowing identity to this hollowness? There is no clear losing. I didn’t notice it happening until it already happened. I went from knowing who I was to being stuck in my mind’s crossfires. Back when I knew who I was, my life was music. It was something that once controlled my identity. I was always listening to something, whether it was a song I already knew I liked, a radio station I favoured, or an album I adored. I lived for finding new songs and artists to listen to and would immediately note them down. My life was surrounded by music. But now my life is silent. I have no motivation to listen attentively to music the way I once did. I don’t pay attention to the lyrics anymore, furthermore, I can’t be bothered to look to find the magical sounding little beats cleverly weaved into the song. I am numb. When I look at a music artist I once worshiped there is nothing but a blank stare. I have lost the connection I once had with music and I don’t know why. I know that I love music and I know why I love it but I struggle to feel the ethereal euphoria it once gave me.
However, my personal experience is different than Elie’s; Elie experienced tremendous horrors. He was stripped of his identity, beliefs, and, in ways, his own thoughts. Piece by piece, he was fading. Elie started the book when he was passionate about his faith. He didn’t quite know why he believed, but he believed. Elie was determined to learn even when his father forbade him from learning; he sought out Moishe the beadle to mentor him and nurture his journey in faith. Whereas, the pipel’s execution was Elie’s last straw. Elie watched as the child struggled, too light for his own body weight to kill him so he died a slow and brutally painful death. Elie was left questioning existence. No longer was he the boy who believed in faith, because why would a god he was supposed to treasure condemn him to such a tragic end? As for me, no longer was I the girl who loved music, but why was I not?
I just want to know who I am again.