Eliezer Internal Conflicts Caused By The Guilt Of Surviving

1446 words - 6 pages

In Elie Wiesel’s Day, the protagonist Eliezer has a past that continually influences his daily life. As a survivor of the Holocaust, he is constantly reminded of his friends and family who perished in the camps. Eliezer lived in a concentration camp for five years, where he witnessed death and the inhumane acts of murder. Since he has already experienced death, he is not afraid of it or the afterlife. These haunting memories inflict pain upon Eliezer and cause him to feel that life is not worth living. He mentions continually throughout the novel that he wishes he were dead. These feelings are caused by the guilt that he carries for surviving when compared to the fate of others. Throughout his time in the hospital, Eliezer struggles with an internal conflict between surviving and dying, which suppresses his personal growth; he simply cannot erase his past memories, which cause him to believe that death is the best solution for his guilt.
Eliezer has ample amount of time to think about his horrific memories of suffering and death that he witnessed in the concentration camps while healing in the hospital. He is haunted by his memories of family and friends, who are no longer alive. As a result of these memories, he no longer feels joy and can not find a reason to keep on living. Eliezer shows his lack of joy while with Doctor Russel and Eliezer thinks that “death is not my enemy. If he [Doctor Russel] doesn’t know that, he knows nothing…He has seen come back to life, but he doesn’t know what I think of life and death” (16). Eliezer’s memories of the Holocaust and his family cause him to have recurring feelings of guilt because he survived these death camps where other, more worthy and deserving people did not.
In the passage in which Doctor Russel questions Eliezer why he has lost desire to live helps to manifest the effects of Eliezer’s experience of the Holocaust that continue to have on his life. Doctor Russel asks Eliezer, “Why do you not care about living?” (60). Eliezer’s first reaction is to panic, proving to the audience that Doctor Russel’s impression is right: “for a moment everything shook. Even the light flickered and changed color. It was white, red, and black. The blood was beating in my temples. My head was no longer my own” (60). The author provides this passage with Eliezer’s internal thoughts to demonstrate the initial fear that the protagonist feels when he recognizes that Dr. Russel is has started to understand his situation. Also, Wiesel uses this passage to convey the work’s most prevalent themes: death and survivors desire to be released from the guilt they suffer from surviving terrible events. Wiesel uses the repetition of Eliezer stating to himself, “He knows. He knows. He knows” (60) to illustrate Eliezer’s worry that the doctor has actually figured out that he no longer wants to live. Eliezer than calms and realizes “his guessing is nothing. An impression. That’s all. Nothing definite. Nothing worked out.”...

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