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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES FOR NIGHT BY ELIE WIESEL
As they journey towards their new location, the prisoners are abused and made to run at top speed through the snow; if they fall behind, they will be shot or trampled. Because of the pain from his foot, coupled with the misery of the cold and starvation, Elie thinks that it would be better to die than to move onward. He tells his father that he is thinking about simply laying down to sleep in the snow; but his father prevents him from doing so, knowing he would quickly freeze to death.
Finally, the prisoners are allowed to rest. They spy a dilapidated shelter nearby and decide to take turns sleeping inside. Rabbi Eliahou, normally a kind and peaceful man, is frantic, for he cannot find his son. Elie had seen the son running ahead of his father, as if to get rid of him since the old Rabbi was stumbling. Elie does not want to tell the old man the truth, so he lies and says he has not seen the son. When the Rabbi departs, Elie prays that he will never forsake his father like this boy.
The prisoners finally arrive at Gleiwitz, where they are assigned to barracks. Mr. Wiesel is weak and exhausted, and Elie is in such pain that he can barely catch his breath. Then he hears violin music being played by his friend, Juliek; it is a beautiful excerpt from Beethoven. Juliek is playing with such emotion it is as though his soul had become the bow and his entire life was gliding on the strings. Elie is greatly calmed by the melody and manages to fall asleep. When Elie wakes up at daylight, he is greatly saddened to see Juliek lying dead with his trampled violin beside him.
For three days, the prisoners receive no food or water. Then on the third day, there is another selection process. The weak are sent to one line and the strong to another. Elie's father is sent to the line of the weak people. When Elie tries to join him, he is forced to join the line of the strong ones. When the guards are not watching, due to a commotion, Elie's father leaves the weak line to join Elie.
The prisoners are all miserable and complain; as a result, three people are shot. Those who have survived are so hungry and thirsty that they scrape off and eat the snow from each other's backs since they are not allowed to bend down. They hope that they can survive until the train arrives to take them on the next leg of their journey. When it finally comes in the evening, the prisoners are shoved and crowded into roofless cattle cars, which expose them to the freezing weather.
The journey from Buna in the snow is totally torturous for Elie. He is so hungry and in such pain from his foot, that he thinks it would be better to die than to go onward. When he closes his eyes for a moment, he sees his whole lifetime pass before him. Elie's father, who is also greatly struggling, encourages his son to keep going.
Many prisoners die on the journey, from literally freezing to death, starving to death, being shot by the guards, or being trampled by fellow prisoners. As they die, they are so numb that they do not even give a cry of distress, and the surviving prisoners are in too much misery to react.
In spite of Elie's pain and misery, he proves in this section that he has not lost all of his humanity, in spite of the torture he has experienced and witnessed. When Rabbi Eliahou is frantically searching for his son, whom he fears has been shot or trampled, Elie lies to him to protect his feelings. Elie has seen the son intentionally running away from the father, who was slowing him down; the boy's thoughts were only for his own survival. Elie, however, tells the Rabbi he has not seen his son. He then prays that he will never treat his own father so cruelly, proving he has not totally forsaken God as he earlier claimed. Later, Elie is seen tenderly telling his father that he will watch over him as he sleeps. Mr. Wiesel smiles gratefully at his son. Elie continues to remember the loving and beautiful smile for years and wonders, "From which world did it come?"
Elie again shows his emotions when he arrives at Gleiwitz and hears his friend Juliek playing his violin with his whole soul. Elie is touched and calmed by the Beethoven melody that he hears and is able to fall asleep. The next morning, he awakes to find Juliek lying dead with his violin still beside him. Even though Elie has become largely immune to death, he is saddened at the loss of his friend.
The prisoners are tortured at Gleiwitz, not being given any food or water for three days.
They survive by eating the snow that collects on the backs of prisoners. Then on the third day, another selection process takes place. When Mr. Wiesel is sent to the line for the weak prisoners, Elie tries to join him, wanting to stay with his father to care for him. The guards, however, send him to the line of strong prisoners. Then when the guards are not watching, Mr. Wiesel sneaks into the line with Elie. There is a strong commitment to each other between father and son.
When the train finally arrives at Gleiwitz, the prisoners are shoved and packed into open cattle cars for the last leg of the journey. The trip is certain to be miserable, for the prisoners are already dying of thirst and hunger; now they are to be fully exposed to the freezing weather and falling snow.