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Night by Elie Wiesel

Teacher Guide by Rebecca Ray

Find this Common Core aligned Teacher Guide and more like it in our High School ELA Category!

Student Activities for Night Include:

Night by Elie Wiesel is an autobiographical story, told by Wiesel, depicting his life and journey through the Holocaust as a young boy. In his memoir, he discusses growing up as a devout Jewish boy, and continues the novel through his time spent in Auschwitz, a notorious Nazi concentration camp. The novel ends with his liberation and briefly touches upon his life at the end of WWII.

By the end of this lesson your students will create amazing storyboards like the ones below!




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For more information about teaching The Holocaust, see our History of the Holocaust Teacher Guide.


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A Quick Synopsis of Night (Contains Spoilers)

In the beginning of his novel, Elie dives into his deeply religious beliefs and discusses his interest in pursuing religious studies. All of that changes when the Nazis arrive in his small town. Despite the warnings and rumors, by 1944 Elie, his family, and his town are moved into a ghetto.

When the Nazis came again, the Jews are sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Men and women were segregated, and Elie was divided from his family, except for his father. Elie relates the atrocious events that occurred inside the camp, and gives insight to the theme of survival and faith.


Essential Questions for Night

  1. What kind of hate is racism? Does racism exist in our society today?
  2. Do people control groups or do groups control people?
  3. How does prejudice lead to violence?
  4. In what ways does a person seek or lose faith in dire situations?

Night Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Night Plot Diagram

A common use for Storyboard That is to help students create a plot diagram of the events from a book. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of the plot, but it reinforces major events and help students develop greater understanding of literary structures.

Even true stories, like memoirs, can have a plot arch. Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc of Night with a six-cell storyboard containing the major parts of the plot diagram. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the book in sequence using Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.


Plot Diagram
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Example Night Plot Diagram

Exposition

Elie and his family are introduced. He, his three sisters, mother, and father all live in the small town of Sighet, Hungarian Transylvania. Early in his life, Elie becomes interested in Jewish mysticism and finds Moshe the Beadle, a master in these areas, who is willing to teach him.


Major Inciting Conflict

World War II has been ongoing for three years. The people of Sighet begin to wonder if the front is moving closer to them, and if the war will end before it reaches Hungary. At this time, all foreign Jews are deported; this includes Moshe.


Rising Action

German soldiers enter Elie’s town, and his family is quickly forced into the ghetto. There, they learn that they will soon be transported to a concentration camp. Elie's father is on the Jewish council, so his family is put on the last transport. While making the three-day journey, Elie and his father are put in the same car as Mrs. Schächter. She screams relentlessly that she sees a fire.


Climax

Elie and his family arrive at Birkenau and he and his father are separated from his mother and sisters. They lie about their ages and occupations to be spared from death and put to work. From there, they go to Auschwitz and eventually travel to Buna to work in an electrical factory. Elie recants the atrocities of death, despair, and loss of hope he experienced under the Nazi occupation.


Falling Action

After months in the camp, Elie undergoes an operation on his foot. While in the infirmary, the camp is evacuated due to advances of the Russian army. In the middle of a snowstorm, the prisoners begin a death march: a fifty mile run to Gleiwitz. Many die of exposure, exhaustion, and abuse. Loaded into cattle cars, the prisoners embark on a deadly journey, only twelve remain alive when the train reaches the concentration camp Buchenwald. Throughout the ordeal, Eliezer and his father help each other to survive.


Resolution

In Buchenwald, Elie's father dies, leaving Elie feeling a guilty mixture of emotions: despair and relief. Elie survives the ordeal; however, he is left not knowing who he is: “From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me. The look in his eyes, as they stared into mine, has never left me.” He was liberated on April 11, 1945.


Elie Wiesel Night Plot Diagram

Example

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Night Themes Symbols and Motifs

Themes, symbols, and motifscome alive when you use a storyboard. In this activity, students will identify themes and symbols from the book, and support their choices with details from the text.

In the classroom students can track the themes this novel uses to send strong messages to its readers.


Night Themes to Look For and Discuss

Loss of Faith

At the beginning of the novel, Wiesel focuses heavily on the fact that his intended occupation was to study and learn all he could about his religion. However, as time progress and increasingly heinous atrocities occurred, Elie’s faith is shaken.


Father-Son Relationship

Three times in the novel Elie brings the reader's attention to familial relationships between fathers and their sons. Often it is to capture the mistreating of elders. For example the story of Rabbi Eliahou’s son, who leaves his father to die during the death march.


Silence

In the novel, Wiesel describes two types of silence. The first being the silence of the victims and their lack of resistance to the Nazis. The second refers to the silence Elie hears when his prayers go unanswered. Again, he believes that God has turned his back, or is absent, in his time of need.


Symbols and Motifs to Look For & Discuss

Fire

In the novel, Wiesel uses fire to symbolize God's divine wrath, as well as the Nazis' power and destruction. The first appearance is when Mrs. Schächter believes she sees fire out of the train window. Several times she screams out, however, to the others it is only a vision. When they arrive in Berkinau, all on board see great flames rising from the smokestacks, spewing ashes.


Night

Throughout the novel, Weisel makes biblical allusions to night or darkness. According to the Torah, God began the world by expelling the darkness. Therefore, darkness symbolizes a world without God. Several times in the novel, night is mentioned; this is when suffering is at its worst. For example, the night before being deported, Elie and his family get little rest; the fear of the unknown chokes their ability to sleep.


Elie Wiesel Night Symbols

Example

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Night Character Map

As students read, a storyboard can serves as a helpful character reference log. This log (also called a character map) allows students to recall relevant information and details about important characters. With character mapping, it’s easy for students to follow along and catch the subtleties which make reading more enriching.

You can click on this map and create a copy on your teacher account. Use it as is, or to edit it for the level of your class. Printing it as worksheets, for your students to complete while reading, is a fast and easy way to incorporate this character map into your classroom.

Night Characters

ElieThe author and narrator of Night. Elie is a young man when he is sent to a concentration camp, during WWII.
Moshe the BeadleA foreign Jew living in Sighet. He is initially deported before the others and comes back to warn his people, in vain.
Elie’s Father/ShlomoShlomo is a highly respected member of the Jewish community, both in Sighet and in their ghetto. He is brave and helps Elie stay positive.
Akiba DrumerA holocaust victim who loses faith in God after the circumstances and experiences of the concentration camp. Elie often focuses on Akiba, as a parallel to his own feelings.
JuliekA musician that Elie befriends in Auschwitz.
Tibi and YosiBrothers who Elie befriends in Buna. They are Zionists, members of a movement for the re-establishment of the Jewish nation in Israel. Tibi, Yosi, and Elie plan to move there after the war.
IdekElie’s Kapo, a prisoner who was put in charge of the other prisoners, in Buna. His mood swings were often violent, and when Elie caught him having sex with a Polish woman, Idek had Elie whipped.
FranekA Polish prisoner of war and foreman in the musician's block at Buna. At first, he helps Elie and his father by getting them assigned to the same block for work. However, later, he steals Elie’s gold crown and repeatedly beats his father.
Rabbi EliahouA well-liked Rabbi who loses his son during the death march. Elie realizes that his son knowingly left his father.

Elie Wiesel Night Character Map

Example

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Night Vocabulary Lesson Plan & Graphic Organizer


Copy Assignment



Another great way to engage your students is through the creation of storyboards that uses vocabulary from Night. Here is a list of a few vocabulary words commonly taught with the novel and an example of a visual vocabulary board.

Example Vocabulary Words from Night

  • Beadle

    A minor official in the church who serves a ceremonial function

  • Penury

    Extreme poverty

  • Expulsion

    The act of forcing someone or something out

  • Liberate

    To set free or release

  • Mysticism

    A religious practice which believes that through prayer and thought a person can gain spiritual truth

In the vocabulary board, students can choose between coming up with their use of the vocabulary board, finding the specific example from the text, or depicting it without words.

Elie Wiesel Night Vocabulary

Example

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Demonstrate your understanding of the vocabulary words in Night by creating visualizations.


  1. Choose three vocabulary words from the story and type them in the title boxes.
  2. Find the definition in a print or online dictionary.
  3. Write a sentence that uses the vocabulary word.
  4. Illustrate the meaning of the word in the cell using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.
    • Alternatively, use Photos for Class to show the meaning of the words with the search bar.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.



Vocabulary Template Blank

Example

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Elie Wiesel's Life Timeline Graphic Organizer

Tracking Elie’s life as he explains it in the novel is important for making connections. Night is an exemplary novel for students to use to connect to on many different levels. In this activity, students will be creating a timeline to make text to world (History) connections. As part of learning about the Holocaust students can use Elie Wiesel’s first hand experience of the atrocities to help further understand the political and factual occurrences during the war.


Example Timeline of Night

1941

Elie is introduced

Elie is 12 years old and is studying the Kabbalah. He is curious about his faith. He urges his father to teach him Jewish mysticism. His father declines, saying he is too young. Elie finds Moshe the Beadle who becomes his Rabbi (Teacher).

1942

Moshe Warns of Atrocities

The Hungarian government sends for all foreign Jews who could not prove Hungarian citizenship. They are deported to Nazi-held Poland. On the way the SS murder them. Moshe is able to escape and returns to Sighet to tell his story, but no one believes him.

1943

The Calm Before the Storm

Elie celebrates his bar mitzvah and continues to study the Bible and other Jewish books.

1944

German Occupation

In March, Sighet is occupied. Jews are forced to wear stars. Soon their businesses are shut down.

1944

Then Came the Ghettos

In May, Jewish homes are raided and they are forced into the ghettos.

1944

Transport to Auschwitz

At the end of May, Elie’s father learns that all the Jews will be transported to a concentration camp. They are expelled from the ghettos and forced onto cattle cars by the hundreds. Once at Auschwitz, Elie and his father lie in order to survive.

1944 -1945

Life in the Camp

For seven months, Elie and his father work in the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Buna.

1945

SS Units Evacuate Auschwitz / Death March

Over the winter, Elie's foot becomes infected, and in January, he requires an operation. With the Red Army advancing, the SS evacuates the camp and forces the prisoners on a 50 mile death march to Buchenwald. Of the 20,000 who left the camp only 6,000 survive.

1945

Elie's Father Dies/ Shlomo

January 29: The prisoners arrive at Buchenwald, but Shlomo Wiesel dies of dysentery, starvation, and exhaustion. Elie becomes guilt stricken with feelings of relief and sadness.

1945

Liberation in April

Elie is liberated and sent to France, where he spends time recovering from intestinal issues. “From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me. The look in his eyes, as they stared into mine, has never left me.

Elie Wiesel Night Timeline

Example

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Check out other teacher guides on history and literature during World War II and Holocaust


The History of the Holocaust

Introduction to World War II

World War II: 1939-1941

World War II: 1942-1945

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Night by Elie Wiesel

The Sunflower by Simon Wiesenthal


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•   (English) Night   •   (Español) Noche   •   (Français) Nuit   •   (Deutsch) Nacht   •   (Italiana) Notte   •   (Nederlands) Nacht   •   (Português) Noite   •   (עברית) לַיְלָה   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) ليل   •   (हिन्दी) रात   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Ночь   •   (Dansk) Nat   •   (Svenska) Natt   •   (Suomi) Yö   •   (Norsk) Natt   •   (Türkçe) Gece   •   (Polski) Noc   •   (Româna) Noapte   •   (Ceština) Noc