Night by Elie Wiesel

Close Reading Lesson: Night Chapters 1 – 2 

Below is a full close reading lesson from Night chapters 1-2. You can download the entire lesson by following this link: Night Chapters 1-2.

Close reading involves paying especially close attention to the text. It means not only reading and night_by_elie_wiesel__by_kuraicat-d3c0urnunderstanding the meanings of the individual printed words, but also making yourself sensitive to various ways in which skilled writers tell their stories.

Elie Wiesel is a master storyteller who uses his abilities to spark interest and activism. Night is his memoir, rooted in Jewish storytelling tradition. His book gives us an eyewitness account of the events and brutality that occurred in Auschwitz. Wiesel’s aim in writing Night is not only ignite our compassionate nature as we experience the cruelty and torture bestowed upon Jewish people during WWII, but also to open our eyes to what happened in the Nazi concentration camps in hope of preventing it from happening again. He dedicated his life ensuring that the inhumane murder of the six million Jews would never be forgotten, and that no other humans would ever be subjected to genocidal homicide.

Throughout the following assignments, students will read selected passages carefully. They will not only understand what is written, but also consider how it is written and how the writer’s literary techniques contribute to the meaning and purpose of the work as a whole.

Students are encouraged to underline key vocabulary words. Highlight literary devices. Answer the questions with complete thoughts and sentences; and immerse themselves in the Holocaust experience as seen through the eyes of 15-year-old, Elizer Weisel.

Vocabulary

  • beadle bea•dle noun – a church officer
  • divinity di•vi•ni•ty noun The state or quality of being divine (godliness).
  • edict e•dict noun an official order or proclamation issued by a person in authority.
  • fascism an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.
  • Gestapo Ges•ta•po noun the German state secret police during the Nazi regime, organized in 1933 and notorious for its brutal methods and operations.
  • ghetto ghet•to noun A ghetto is a part of a city in which members of a minority group live, especially because of social, legal, or economic pressure. During the Holocaust, the creation of ghettos was a key step in the Nazi process of separating, persecuting, and ultimately destroying Europe’s Jews.
  • Hasidic Ha•si•dic adjective – of or relating to Jewish Hasidism
  • Judaism Ju•da•ism noun Judaism is the collective and monotheistic religion of the Jews
  • Kabbalah Kab•ba•lah noun – a part of Jewish tradition that deals with the essence of God. Whether it entails a sacred text, an experience, or the way things work, Kabbalists believe that God moves in mysterious ways.
  • mysticism mys•ti•cism noun – the belief that direct knowledge of God, spiritual truth, or ultimate reality can be attained through subjective experience (as intuition or insight)
  • Nazi Na•zi noun a member of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, which controlled Germany from 1933 to 1945 under Adolf Hitler and advocated totalitarian government, territorial expansion, anti-Semitism, and Aryan supremacy, all these leading directly to World War II and the Holocaust.
  • Nyilas Party noun a pro-Nazi party comprised of a fascist anti-semitic party that assisted the SS in deportations of Jews in Autumn of 1944. Nyilas Party assumed power in late 1944.
  • Passover Pass•o•ver noun The name “Passover” is derived from the Hebrew word Pesach which is based on the root “pass over” and refers to the fact that God “passed over” the houses of the Jews when he was slaying the firstborn of Egypt during the last of the ten plagues.
  • phylactery phy•lac•ter•y noun a small leather box containing Hebrew texts on vellum, worn by Jewish men at morning prayer as a reminder to keep the law
  • prophecy pro•phe•cy noun – a prediction
  • rabbi rab•bi noun a Jewish scholar or teacher, especially one who studies or teaches Jewish law; a Jewish religious leader.
  • Shavuot Shavu’o noun the Festival of Weeks. A time leading up to Passover that recalls the giving of the Torah; also a harvest festival.
  • synagogue syn•a•gogue noun the building where a Jewish assembly or congregation meets for religious worship and instruction.
  • Talmud Tal•mud noun The Talmud (Hebrew for “study”) is one of the central works of the Jewish people.
  • Zohar Zo•har noun the chief text of the Jewish Kabbalah, presented as an allegorical or mystical interpretation of the Pentateuch.

Literary devices

  • ancillary characters less important characters who highlight more significant characters or interact with them in such a way as to provide insight into the narrative action.
  • characterization step by step development of a character highlight and explain the details about a character in a story.
  • connotation the shade of meaning each word carries beyond the minimal, strict definition found in a dictionary.
  • diction – word choice – A study of diction is the analysis of how a writer uses language for a distinct purpose and effect, including word choice and figures of speech.
  • diction types:
    • colloquial words – conversational language – Is there dialect?
    • slang – highly informal
    • jargon – the special language of a profession or group (lawyer talk, technical talk)
  • dramatic irony when the readers know something that the characters do not know.
  • imagery a literary device that uses visually descriptive language that pulls from any one or more of the five senses.
  • memoir a written factual account of someone’s life
  • metaphor an implicit, implied or hidden comparison between two things that are unrelated but share some common characteristics. A metaphor is similar to a simile, but it does not use the words “like” or “as.”
  • parallelism when the writer establishes similar patterns of grammatical structure and length.
  • personification a literary device that applies human characteristics to something nonhuman. For example: The sun kissed the flowers.
  • rhetorical question a question asked in order to create dramatic effect or to make a point, rather than to get an answer
  • sequence order of events in a story
  • simile a figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind, used to make a description more emphatic or vivid. A simile uses the words “like” or “as” in its comparison.
  • style describes the words and characteristic way that a writer uses words, sentence structure, parallelism and literary devices such as imagery, simile, anaphora, or irony to achieve certain effects.
  • stylistics those features that distinguish how a writer write rather than what they write about such as sentence length, preferred rhetorical devices, tendencies in diction, etc.
  • symbolism the use of symbols to represent ideas or qualities.
  • theme central idea or meaning that unifies a literary work
  • tone – The manner of expression showing the author’s attitude toward characters, events, or situations. Tone is reflected in the author’s “voice.”

Close reading Chapters 1-2

Directions: Carefully read the following passage. Use the chart provided to guide you in analyzing all of the passage’s important elements. The claim has been determined for you.

CLAIM: Chapters 1 & 2 include significant prophetic warnings First warning: Moishe the Beadle Sequence of events:

  1.   Moishe the Beadle is a poor, foreign Jew who lives in the town of Sighet. He is a teacher, well versed in a Jewish tradition known as the Kabbalah, which involves mysticism. 15-year-old Eliezer asked his father to help him find a master to teach him Kabbalah (p. 4). Moishe the Beadle becomes that person.
  2. When all foreign Jews were expelled from Sighet, Moishe the Beadle was among them (p. 6).
  3. Later, he returns to Sighet after a massacre of foreign Jews to warn the Jews of Sighet of coming danger.
Passage #1: Moishe the Beadle’s (pg. 7):

Day after day, night after night, he went from one Jewish house to the next, telling his story and that of Malka, the young girl who lay dying for three days, and that of Tobie, the tailor who begged to die before his sons were killed.

Moishe was not the same. The joy in his eyes was gone. He no longer sang. He no longer mentioned either God or Kabbalah. He spoke only of what he had seen. But people not only refused to believe his tales, they refused to listen. Some even insinuated that he only wanted their pity, that he was imagining things. Others flatly said that he had gone mad.

As for Moishe, he wept and pleaded: “Jews, listen to me! That’s all I ask of you. No money. No pity. Just listen to me!” he kept shouting in synagogue, between the prayer at dusk and the evening prayer.

Even I did not believe him. I often sat with him, after services, and listened to his tales, trying to understand his grief. But all I felt was pity.

“They think I’m mad,” he whispered, and tears, like drops of wax, flowed from his eyes.

Elements of Style: Identification and Analysis:
Syntax

How are words arranged in the passage? Does the author use simple or complex sentences? Are there unique uses of fragments or       run-ons?

What about structural devices such as ancillary characters, and parallelism?

Diction

Carefully examine the language of the passage. Pay attention to the author’s diction (word choice), including vocabulary and words with strong or weak connotative meanings. Underline key words and terms that determine the author’s diction.

 

 

 

 

Figurative Language

 Identify key rhetorical devices, such as simile, metaphor, personification, symbol, symbolism, and imagery.

Comment on their effect on the passage as a whole.

 

Tone

 What is the speaker’s attitude in the passage? What aspect(s) of the text suggest this? Is more than one attitude or point of view expressed? Does the passage have a noticeable emotional mood or atmosphere? What effect does tone have on the reader?

 

Foreshadow vs. Prophecy

 A foreshadow is a hint or suggestion of what is to come. Prophecy is a direct claim, especially made by a prophet or individual under divine inspiration. Is this passage an example of foreshadow or prophecy? Explain your answer.

 

Theme

 In identifying the theme, it is necessary to recognize the human experience, motivation, or condition suggested by the literature. Who are the subjects of this passage? What are the circumstances or conditions surrounding the main idea?  What is the theme of this passage?

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