Notes on Characters from Night

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Night Major Characters

Elie (Eliezer): The main character and narrator of the story, Elie is fifteen years old when he is taken to the Nazi concentration camps. Elie and his father support each other throughout their internment. Elie's father dies before the liberation, but Elie becomes a survivor and witness of the death camps. Elie's narrative recounts the horrors of his nightmarish Holocaust experience.

Elie's father (Shlomo): A storeowner and a well-respected Jewish community leader in Sighet before the deportation of the Jews. Elie develops a strong bond with his father as they go through the unforgettable journey through the death camps. He manages to survive the internment until the very end, where he dies of dysentery before the liberation of the camps.

Moshe the Beadle: A poor Jewish mystic in the town of Sighet who becomes Elie's spiritual mentor and friend. In 1942, Moshe is deported to Poland where he witnesses the mass extermination of the Jews. He manages to escape and goes back to Sighet to warn them of danger. No one listens to him.

Dr. Mengele: Described as a typical SS officer (a cruel face, but not devoid of intelligence, and wearing a monocle), he uses a baton during the selection process. He decides who lives to work another day and who is sent to their deaths at the crematory. Cold, unaffected, and authoritative, he is the prototypical Nazi officer.

young pipel: A young assistant under the Dutch Oberkapo (head overseer) at Buna, he is sentenced to death for being involved in sabotage. Described as having the face of angel, he struggles on the gallows for more than half an hour before he dies. Elie is deeply affected by witnessing the boy's death.

Minor Characters

Elie's mother: Separated from Elie and her husband at Birkenau, she and Elie's younger sister, Tzipora, die in the crematory at Birkenau.

Hilda and Bea: Elie's older sisters, they survive the camps.

Tzipora: Elie's younger sister. She dies, along with Elie's mother at Birkenau.

Madame Schachter: A woman of about fifty with a ten year old child. On the train ride to Auschwitz, she starts to lose her mind. She constantly warns the passengers of the fire, flame, and furnace. Her words prove prophetic, as the other Jews witness the flames of the crematory and the smell of burning flesh upon arrival of Birkenau.

Stein of Antwerp: A relative of the Wiesels, he questions Elie's father about the whereabouts of his wife and two little boys. Elie lies and tells them that he has heard of them, which makes Stein happy. He brings Elie extra rations of food until he hears the truth about his family. Elie does not hear from him again.

Akiba Drumer: A fellow prisoner with a deep solemn voice, he sings Hasidic melodies at Birkenau. Deeply religious, he is optimistic that their imprisonment will not last long. As time passes, he loses faith.

Juliek: A bespectacled Polish Jew, he is a violinist in the orchestra at Buna. At Gleiwitz, amidst a barrack full of dying men, Elie hears Juliek play his violin one last time. In the morning, Elie finds him dead, his violin crushed.

Idek the Kapo: An overseer at Buna, he is described as having fits of madness. He beats Elie and his father on different occasions. In one incident, Elie discovers him with a girl. As punishment, Idek gives him 25 strokes of the whip.

Yossi and Tibi: Two Czech brothers whose parents are exterminated at Birkenau. They become friends with Elie at Buna. Together with Elie, they plan to go to Palestine after the war.

Franek: A Pole and former student from Warsaw, he is the foreman at Buna. He forces Elie to give up the gold crown on his tooth by tormenting Elie's father.

Alphonse: A German Jew and head of the block at Buna, he is kind and generous to the members of his block.

dentist (Jewish Czech): A Jewish dentist at Buna that Elie goes to see for his gold crown, his dentist office is closed down after being arrested for running a private trade of gold teeth.

French girl (Jewess): A girl with whom Elie works next to at a warehouse at Buna. When Elie is beaten by Idek the Kapo, the French girl helps him and tells him to keep his anger for another day. Years later in Paris, Elie Wiesel runs into her in the Metro. After reminiscing about the past, Elie finds out that she is, as he had thought, Jewish.

youth from Warsaw: Elie's first witness of a hanging, the Polish boy is hanged for stealing during an alert. All the prisoners are made to stare at the face of the hanged body.

Dutch Oberkapo: A kind and beloved overseer at Buna, he is accused of sabotage and stocking arms. He is transferred to Auschwitz and never seen again. His assistant, the pipel, is hanged.

rabbi from Poland: Like Akiba Drumer, a person who loses his faith while in the camps. Initially, he recites whole passages of the Talmud and argues with himself about God. Later on, he concludes that God is no longer with them.

Jewish doctor (at Buna): A doctor that operates on Elie's foot. He promises Elie that he will walk again.

neighbor (in the hospital): A Hungarian Jew who is an invalid in the hospital where Elie recuperates from his foot surgery. He tells Elie that Hitler will be faithful to his promise of annihilating all the Jews.

Zalman: A Polish lad, who works with Elie at the electrical warehouse at Buna, he falls behind during the winter march to Gleiwitz. Elie believes the other prisoners trampled Zalman.

Rabbi Eliahou: A rabbi of a small Polish community, he is described as beloved by everyone in the camp, including the Kapos. Known to shine with inner purity, his words always bring comfort to the people. As he goes around looking for his son, Elie remembers how he had seen the rabbi's son abandon him during the winter march. Elie prays that he does not become like the rabbi's son.

Meir : On the winter transfer to Buchenwald, he kills his father over a morsel of bread. After he snatches the bread from his father, he himself is killed by other men.

Meir Katz: A friend of Elie's father, he is one of the strongest in the camp. Elie's father calls for Meir's help when Elie is choked during the night. Near the end of the trip to Buchenwald, Meir starts to lose hope and tells Elie's father that he cannot make it. He dies as they arrive at Buchenwald.

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