He describes life as burdensome, and the act of living it as a torture from which he sometimes wishes to be released.
The novel’s paradigm continually returns to the subjectivity of the self as experienced through exterior and interior.
Wiesel frequently identifies the reason for people’s death as their loss of a will to live; while Wiesel does indeed lose faith, he never does so completely, and the reader is led to believe that it is perhaps his emotion, even if negative, towards God, that is partly responsible for keeping him alive.
Tied to the theme of human nature and dignity, scenes and discussions of loyalty permeate the novel.
In turn, Wiesel analyses exterior and interior silence as they relate to each other and their broader implications for society.
Exterior silence is society ignoring atrocities for the sake of the status quo.When his father is near death and taken to the crematory, Wiesel resents himself for, in some ways, feeling freed from his responsibility by his father’s death.Wiesel also pictures freedom as not only as defined as being liberated from the concentration camps, but in some cases as being freed from life itself.The narrator’s interior self is wholly disconnected from the exterior self.The interior self has to come to terms with a new reality, that of his wasted face and features.For example, after the redolent anti-semitism that swept society and stripped the Jewish persona of any value in the prewar world, society, in general, remained silent about the systematic decimation of European Jews during the Holocaust. The main character looks in the mirror and “from the depths of the mirror, a corpse was contemplating me.On the other hand, interior silence is the voice within that is silenced through danger, persecution, and violence. The look in his eyes as he gazed at me has never left me” (Wiesel 115).The reader learns early on in the book that Eliezer is very devout and eager to learn more about his faith, but as time continues, so the stability of his faith is challenged.Interestingly, it is not that Wiesel ever stops believing in God in entirely, but more that he has a deep resentment of a god who has allowed for such evil to persist.The breakdown of civility happens very early on, when people are first herded onto the cattle cars and some young couples begin to openly copulate with each other.As comfort is substituted for violence, people in Wiesel’s world are frequently described as beasts, and their survival instincts supersede their emotions and relational ties, even when it comes to family: the most tragic example is when a young man kills his own father for a piece of bread.