The Holocaust was one of the most severely destructive events of the 20th century that resulted in the mass genocide of almost 6 million Jews in Europe. Even those who managed to survive the Holocaust passed away over the years and as the years went on, people stopped talking about the heartrending events that took place. Perhaps for this reason, Elie Wiesel and Simon Wiesenthal wrote their respective books “Night” and “The Sunflower,” both of which are intense memoirs of their experience in the Holocaust. Apparently, it seems that the authors are afraid that such a catastrophic event may take place in the future if the Holocaust is forgotten. Thus, the authors aim to form an emotional connection between their readers and the Holocaust victims, and leave a long-lasting imprint of the event in their minds. The purpose of this paper is to compare and contrast the books “Night” by Elie Wiesel and “The Sunflower” by Simon Wiesenthal.
Another recurrent theme in both Elie Wiesel and Simon Wiesenthal’s book is the inhumanity that took place during the Holocaust. Both authors are shocked that human beings can be so brutal and merciless. However, even though the book has a few similar themes, Wiesel and Wiesenthal seem to deviate when it comes to the flow of arguments, perception, organization, and structure of their respective works. Wiesel and Wiesenthal emphasize separate aspects of their survivals. Although both Wiesel and Wiesenthal are recollecting the persistence of life during the Holocaust in their books, both authors focus on separate aspects of their existence during the cruelty and brutality in their corresponding works. Moreover, while Wiesel writes about various experiences in the “Night,” Wiesenthal’s “The Sunflower” revolves around a single central concern. For instance, Wiesel’s recalls three separate instances of concentration camp prisoners themselves behaving inhumanly, while Wiesenthal completely focuses on his experience of meeting a dying Nazi soldier.
Even though Wiesel’s book presents much broader and multiple perspectives of the Holocaust, initially the book does not succeed at grabbing the reader’s attention. Nonetheless, Wiesel’s the inclusion of so many people makes the book more informative than Wiesenthal’s. However, at the same time, Wiesenthal’s book evokes a profoundly keen sense of regret or even sadness because of the dilemma the author recalls. While Wiesel’s book is more informative than Wiesenthal’s, however, Wiesenthal’s book incites the reader to think about forgiveness, justice, human responsibility, and mercy. Both Wiesel and Wiesenthal have used a first-person narrative in their books. They have used this style of writing to try to make their readers actually feel what it was like to be there during the Holocaust. Perhaps, Wiesel succeeds at making the reader feel far more emotions than Wiesenthal because of sharing more of his life changing and horrifying experiences, but Wiesenthal’s metaphoric style makes his book equally interesting.
Perhaps it can even be argued that “The Sunflower” is equally informative or even more informative than “Night.” While Wiesel simply recalls what he saw during the Holocaust while a majority of Wisenthal’s book is full of responses from around the world to questions that he has raised in the initial hundred pages. Then again, the authors raise their own individual questions in their respective works. While Wiesel questions how human beings can be so cruel and inhuman, on the other hand, the human capability of forgiveness has been questioned in Wisenthal’s book. Nonetheless, both authors present an equally distinct and fresh outlook of the Holocaust.
Both “Night” and “The Sunflower” provide lessons that the society of today can utilize and that is why readers must understand the message these books are trying to convey. The fist-hand account of the brutality and savagery committed during the Holocaust in both these books is descriptive and moving. Both these books show how ruthless the Jewish culture was decimated by the relentless Germans Nazis. Such atrocities can be prevented from happening in the future, something that both authors are afraid of, if the society of today could manage to comprehend these two works. Thus, Elie Wiesel’s “Night” and Simon Wiesenthal’s “The Sunflower” both serve their purpose of aiding in the cause of preventing another Holocaust from emanating.
Wiesel, Elie. Night. New York: Bantam Books, 1982. Print.
Wiesenthal, Simon. The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness. New York: Schocken Books, 1998. Print.