Tuesday, February 11, 2014

student responses to Elie Weisel's "Night"

Here are excerpts from two students’ responses to reading Elie Wiesel’s Night in my course called “Representations of the holocaust”:

I guess my frustration comes from my confusion about what my relationship should be towards this book. I feel a little out of sorts as a reader. I think of a memoir as closer in relationship to a novel than a textbook, and so I’ve been expecting of it some of the attention and creativity of form that a novel shows. But is that wrong of me? Is a holocaust memoir addressing something too sacrosanct to employ the same devices that a novel or creative memoir about another topic does? I really don’t know, and I feel disappointed with myself for feeling disappointed by the form of the narrative.

Some events initially seemed too perfectly metaphorical to be reality. But I had to remind myself that such things did happen. In such extreme circumstances, there is no metaphor and there is not the unimaginable—we are forced to accept that it is reality and we are forced to imagine the unimaginable, as terrible as it is, for that is the only way we can attempt to empathize.