The another human being just because it

The memoir Night recounts a period in the life of Elie Wiesel. Wiesel was a jew during the second world war and he was forced to endure the dehumanization and brutality within the dreaded concentration camps. The people held in  these camps were often faced with situations in which they could either act selfishly and  take advantage of others, or act altruistically and make sacrifices for others. Throughout the memoir, Wiesel makes it very clear that acting selfishly in this situation is correct choice to make because it is critical for one’s survival, it eliminates unnecessary stress from an already stressful situation, and also because altruism is pointless in the concentration camps. To begin with, being selfish when faced with the dehumanization and brutality of the concentration camps is necessary for survival. After Weisel first arrives at Buna, a concentration camp near Weimar, Germany, he immediately began to look out for himself. After hearing about the death of the dentist at his camp, Wiesel writes “I felt no pity for him. In fact, I was pleased with what was happening to him: my gold crown was safe” (Wiesel, 52). The fact that Wiesel is happy about the death of another human being just because it benefits him shows how the harsh situations in the camp, along with the constant threat of death, cause people to be selfish in order to survive. As the Jewish holidays were approaching, the majority of people in the camps were preparing to show their devotion to God by fasting. Wiesel, however, writes that “there was no reason for me to fast. I no longer accepted God’s silence. As I swallowed my ration of soup, I turned that act into a symbol of rebellion against Him” (Weisel, 69). By not fasting, Wiesel is more likely to be healthier and will therefore have a higher likelihood of surviving the terrible conditions in the camp. Additionally, being selfish can eliminate some of the stress that comes with being held in the brutal concentration camps. After being forced to evacuate Buna, Wiesel recalls encountering Rabbi Eliahu, the beloved rabbi of a small polish community, who was in search of his son. Wiesel recalls, “his son had seen him losing ground, sliding back to the rear of the column. He had seen him. And he had continued to run in the front, letting the distance between them become greater” (Wiesel, 90). By abandoning his father, Rabbi Eliahu’s son shows how having to look after someone else is a burden that it is frankly to stressful when coupled with the already harsh conditions of the concentration camp. Eventually Weisel undergoes a similar experience shortly after the death of his father. He writes that “deep inside me, if I could have searched the recesses of my of my feeble conscience, I might have found something like: Free at last!..” (Wiesel, 112). By relating his father’s death to freedom, Wiesel is demonstrating the idea that looking after others while under the constant threat of death is too great a burden. Some people may say that when faced with the dehumanization and brutality within the concentration camps, the correct path of action is to act altruistically and and to sacrifice one’s own well being for the the good of others. These people could point to Stein from Antwerp, who was related to Wiesel’s father, because of his very giving nature. Wiesel recalls that “Stein, our relative from Antwerp, continued to visit us, and from time to time, he would bring a half portion of bread” (Wiesel, 44). By giving up his half of his food, it could be said that Stein is helping both himself and his relative. While this seems like a nice gesture, it completely ignores the fact that being altruistic in this situation is completely pointless. After receiving Stein’s rations, Wiesel describes him by stating “And he himself was so thin, so withered, so weak…”(Wiesel, 78). By giving up his rations to Elie, Stein was only hurting himself and his gesture, although very generous, was not really helping either of them. When his father was severely sick, Elie was constantly giving up his rations in order to help him. Wiesel recalls that a Blockälteste, or a non-Jew, told him “Listen to me, kid. Don’t forget that you are in a concentration camp. In this place, it is every man for himself, and you cannot think of others. Not even your father. In this place, there is no such thing as father, brother, friend. Each of us lives and dies alone. Let me give you good advice: stop giving your ration of bread and soup to your old father. You cannot help him anymore. And you are hurting yourself. In fact, you should be getting his rations …”(Weisel, 110). The fact that Elie was warned by the Blockälteste not to worry about his father and to only look after himself shows how pointless altruism was in the the terrible conditions of the camp. Acting selfishly when being forced to endure the dehumanization and brutality within the dreaded concentration camps is correct choice to make because it is critical for one’s survival, it eliminates unnecessary stress from an already stressful situation, and also because altruism is pointless in the concentration camps. Throughout the memoir, Wiesel acted selfishly and looked after his interests, however this may be the reason he survived the horrible situation in the camps. Being selfish can also liberate people from the burden of having to care for others when they can barely care for themselves. Altruism is useless in the concentration camps because in order to care for others, people must make sacrifices that, in this particular case, may lead to their death. The memoir Night demonstrates how being selfish, in certain situations, may be the only viable and efficient solution.

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