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The Dehumanizing Effects of Trauma in Elie Wiesel’s “Night”

In the memoir “Night” by Elie Wiesel, experiences of trauma and dehumanization are vividly portrayed. This text explores the idea that dehumanization is (quite often) a result of trauma as it can cause a sense of detachment between the perpetrator and the victim. Perpetrators are led to feel as if they are causing harm towards insignificant or inanimate objects rather than towards other human beings while victims are made to feel as if they are inhuman objects. The memoir “Night” serves to support the idea that dehumanization is a consequence of trauma as it demonstrates the objectification of both the victim and the perpetrator, the isolation forced upon the victims and the
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“Now I understood why Idek refused to leave us in the camp. He moved one hundred prisoners so that he could copulate with this girl! It struck me as terribly funny and I burst out laughing.” (Wiesel, 57). It was at this point that Eliezer was reminded that this force of pain and fear was only human. Whether it be out of relief or mockery, Eliezer’s uncontrollable laughter was the result of a brief glimpse of the view he held every other day in his previous life: Regardless of how much they can hurt you, a human will always remain a human. Unfortunately, the sustained torture and twenty-five whips he received caused him to relinquish this perception immediately after. Eliezer, as a Jew in the holocaust, faces dehumanisation through isolation and the feeling of insignificance. Upon arrival at Auschwitz, the Jewish men are immediately separated from the immature and female members of their families, often with the implication that these women and children are going to be murdered. This horrendous “introduction” is carried out with the purpose of forcing the remaining men to feel alone and isolated. Solitude inhibits notions of hope or rebellion, thus making these men mentally weaker and easier to control. Proof of this weakness is exhibited by Stein, the man asking Eliezer and his father about the current state of Stein’s family. “The only thing that keeps me alive, he kept saying, is to know that Reizel and the little ones are still alive. Were it not
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