In the novel, "Night," by Elie Wiesel, does Elie lose his identity by the end of the novel, or does he hold on to it? Can you explain your answer?

1 Answer
Feb 2, 2017

He completely loses his identity.

In the beginning, Elie is completely happy, and life is normal. He thinks he understands who he is, what he wants, and how he should act. However, after his traumatic experiences, he begins to lose sight of his identity; he becomes apathetic and cold. The most notable example is chapter 8, when he is guiltily relieved when his father dies. Elie does not shed tears at his father's death; instead, he is relieved because his father was dragging Elie down. By the end of the novel, when he is finally rescued, he realizes he has changed so much; he has completely lost his previous identity and values.

At the very end of the memoir after his rescue, Elie looks in the mirror and realizes how much he has changed:

One day when I was able to get up, I decided to look at myself in the mirror on the opposite wall. I had not seen myself since the ghetto. From the depths of the mirror, a corpse was contemplating me. The look in his eyes as he gazed at me has never left me.

Here, he uses a perspective shift, describing himself as if he is describing another person, thus evidencing his immense psychological and physical transformation. He has come face to face with the darkness of humanity, and feels like a hollow corpse of the person he used to be.