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Pages and Files
Outside Reading Books
Battle of the Books
Night - reading and responding
Respond to the following on a piece of paper in your binder. File it in the
section. Date each entry and write down the pages covered.
Monday, May 2nd, 2011 - pages 3 - 14
1. How was the Nazis' program of persecution against the Jewish people in Sighet carried out in gradual steps? Write three to four sentences explaining what freedoms they limited and when.
2. Why do you think the Nazis operated this way (in regards to question #1)?
begins, Eliezer is so moved by faith that he weeps when he prays—but he is only 12 years old. Why do you think he feels so strongly about God and his faith?
4. Describe in detail the characters of Eliezer and Moishe the Beadle. What is the nature of their relationship?
5. “And then, one day all foreign Jews were expelled from Sighet,” writes Wiesel, quite bluntly. “And Moishe the Beadle was a foreigner” (p. 6). Why do you suppose this shocking information is delivered so matter-of-factly? What is the point of Wiesel’s abruptness? Also, consider the manner in which Moishe is treated by the Jews of Sighet after he has escaped the Gestapo’s capture. Are the people happy to see him? Is he himself even happy to be alive? Explain why Moishe has returned to the village. Why don’t the Jewish townspeople believe the horrible news he brings back to them?
6. Time and again, the people of Sighet doubt the advance of the German army. Why? When the Germans do arrive, and even once they have moved all the Jews into ghettos, the Jewish townspeople still seem to ignore or suppress their fear. “Most people thought that we would remain in the ghetto until the end of the war, until the arrival of the Red Army. Afterward everything would be as before” (p. 12). What might be the reasons for the townspeople’s widespread denial of the evidence facing them?
Week of May 9th, 2011
pages 34 - 46
1. There are a few instances where we learn of Eliezer and his family missing out on opportunities to escape from the Germans (pp. 9, 14, and 82). How did these missed chances influence your reading of this memoir? And how do these unfortunate events fit into your understanding of the Jewish experience of the Holocaust as a whole?
2. Consider the inscription that appears above the entrance to Auschwitz. What is it supposed to mean? What meaning, if any, does this slogan come to have for Eliezer?
3. Reflecting on the three weeks he spent at Auschwitz, Wiesel admits on p. 45: “Some of the men spoke of God: His mysterious ways, the sins of the Jewish people, and the redemption to come. As for me, I had ceased to pray. I concurred with Job!” What happens to the man called Job in the Bible? What is his story? Explain why Eliezer feels connected to him.
pages 47 - 80
1. As the story progresses, we witness scenes in which the Jews have been reduced to acting—and even treating their fellow prisoners—like rabid animals. During an air raid over Buna (see p. 59), a starved man risks being shot by crawling out to a cauldron of soup that stands in the middle of the camp, only to thrust his face into the boiling liquid once he has arrived there safely. Where else do we see examples of human beings committing such insane acts? What leads people to such horrific behavior? Is it fair to say that such beastliness in the death camps is inevitable? Do Eliezer and his father fall prey to such tragedies?
2. On p. 65, Eliezer witnesses one of the several public hangings he sees in Buna. “For God’s sake, where is God?” asks a prisoner who also sees the hanging. “Where He is?” answers Eliezer, though talking only to himself. “This is where—hanging here from this gallows . . .” What does he mean by this? How could God have been hanged? How have Eliezer’s thoughts and feelings changed since he identified with Job while in Auschwitz (see question 10)? Discuss the relationship that Wiesel has with God throughout
pages 81 - 115
Answer these questions in short answers in your journal:
1. What are your thoughts on the last passage in the book?
"From the depths of the mirror, a corpse (dead body) was contemplating me. The look in his eyes as he gazed at me has never left me.
What does Eliezer mean by those sentences? Explain your answer in at least six sentences.
2. Given its haunting, clearly rendered, and universal themes of suffering and survival in the face of absolute evil,
is a book that is likely to be echoed or suggested in other works you encounter. In other words, it is a classic. Identify several other books that—in your view—remind you of
. Explain your choices.
THIS QUESTION REQUIRES A LONGER RESPONSE in your journal:
3. Now that you've finished or almost finished the book, my challenge to you is to think of the Hebrew saying "Tikkun Olam" which means "heal or repair the world" and figure out what it means to you. How can you personally "heal or repair the world?" In other words, what can you do as an individual to make the world a better place? You can think on a very small scale or a very grand scale. You've probably heard of certain sayings like "pay it forward" or "practice random acts of kindness." These phrases along with those of Jacob Marley's famous speech in
A Christmas Carol
, "mankind was my business" preach the same idea, but remind us that we have a responsibility as humans to help others, be kind, and leave the planet better than we found it. What do you think about this idea? How do you already do this? How can you do even more? What does that look like to you? Write about "healing the world."
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