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Dawn by Elie Wiesel

Chapter 1 Takes place in Palestine. The narrator knows that he has to kill a man tomorrow. He doesn’t know who it is but he knows what he has to do. The man that was going to die was an Englishman. The reason that he had to kill was because there is a war. Beggar. A man that taught the narrator the difference between night and day. Narrator met him while he was at the synagogue. The man wears black clothes. The narrator met the man when he was 12 years old. The narrator, as a child admitted to the beggar that he was definitely afraid of the beggar. “Night is purer than day; it is better for thinking and loving and dreaming.” (4) The man wants to teach the narrator to distinguish between night and day. The beggar taught the narrator to look into the dusk and there would be a face that would appear. Night has a face and day does not. The face that appears is of a dead person. The night before the narrator does what he has to do, he looks into the night and sees his own face. There is going to be an execution at dawn. All of the executions happened at dawn. The “Movement” always kept their word. A month earlier there was one of their fighters that had been on a terrorist operation. He was hauled in by the police and they found weapons on him. They hung the man. By law this is what they were supposed to do. This was the tenth death sentence by the mandatory power in Palestine. The “Old Man” decided that things had gone far enough and now he was not going to allow the English to rule any longer. The Old Man ordered that a military officer be kidnapped. They kidnapped Captain John Dawson who walked alone at night. (6) This made the country very tense.

The English ordered a 24 hour curfew. They searched every house, and also arrested hundreds of suspects. Tanks were stationed at the crossroads, barbed wire barricades at street corners. They did not find the hostage. The High Commissioner of Palestine said that the whole country would be held responsible for the murder of the Captain, if he was in fact murdered. A few people got in touch with the Old Man and told him not to go too far. They wanted the man that was supposed to die, to live. If he died than the Captain would die. The mother of the Captain demanded that the English give up the young Jew so that she could have her son back. The men told her that “The Jews will never do it.” (8) The Palestinians would not give up the Captain because it would show a sign of weakness. The English would not agree to the pardon because it would show a sign of weakness. It was announced over radio that the Jew was to be executed the next day. They said nothing about the Captain but everyone knew that he would die also. The narrator asked Gad who was going to kill the Captain who was going to kill the Captain. He replied “You are.” It was an order from the Old Man. To Gad it was not a big deal. The narrator was amazed by the whole thing. Definite connection to Night. Foreshadow of events. Not wanting to Kill. But being ordered.

Chapter 2 The narrator’s name is Elisha. Age 18. “Gad had recruited me for the Movement and brought me to Palestine. He had made me into a terrorist.” (11) The narrator was held in Buchenwald, a prison camp during the World War. The Americans liberated it and then they offered to send him home. He rejected it because he knew that his parents were dead and that his house and lands were under the control of foreign hands. He went to Paris and that is where he met Gad. He was offered asylum in France. He wanted to learn the language and go to school. but Gad came into his life. “The study of philosophy attracted me because I wanted to understand the meaning of the events of which I had been the victim.” (12) “In the concentration camp I had cried out in sorrow and anger against God and also against man, who seemed to have inherited only the cruelty of his creator.” (12) Gad, one night, knocked on the narrators door and walked in. The narrator did not have any acquaintances in Paris. The person at the door said that he knew everything about him. The narrator compares Gad to God. “He said “I am Gad” in the same way the Jehovah said “I am that I am.”” (14) Also compared him to Meshulah, the mysterious messenger of fate to whom nothing is impossible. (15) “In the Hassidic legends the messenger is always portrayed standing…” (16) the man would not sit down.

The struggle of the group was to make their homeland free from outside intervention. “This was the first story I had ever heard in which the Jews were not the ones to be afraid.” (17) Gad “Here is the dawn. In our land it is very different. Here the Dawn is gray; in Palestine it is red like fire.” (19) “You are listening to the voice of freedom . . .” (20) Was said by a girl every night on the Movements own radio station. There were only about 5 people who knew who this woman was. The narrator and Gad were 2 of them. Gad and the woman were lovers. The English wanted to get hold of her identity just as bad as they wanted to know the Old Man. John and David. People from the bible. The narrator walks over to look in the mirror. He only sees eyes. He was told “Death . . . is a being without arms or legs or mouth or head; it is all eyes. If you ever meet a creature with eyes everywhere. You can be sure that it is death.” (22-23) The story started with a child crying and now as the narrator begins to sob because of what he has to do, the child stops crying. Same age group as in Night. Terrorist by choice. Jews fighting the group of people who helped save them during the war. Held in prison camp during the war. Parents died in camps. Stranger comes to door and walks right in. Both stories have Jews fighting for freedom.

Chapter 3 The narrator believes that he has killed before in raids on camps and convoys but he did not feel bad about planning the raids. They were at night. The movements plan was to kill as many English as possible. That was all. The Captain was being held at a Professor of Language’s house. This is where they held prisoners and people wanted by the police. There was a dungeon built in the basement. When the dogs searched the house they smelled him and came within inches of him but there was a wall between them. For the first 6 weeks that the narrator was in Palestine, he was taught how to use a variety of weapons and how to kill people effectively with bare hands. And how to escape from any prison.

On the last day of training a masked man came to talk to them. The narrator believes that it was the old man. The first time that the narrator killed, he and 4 others raided a camp where they surrounded a group of soldiers and then began firing on them. He says that he will never forget that night. (28) The second time that he killed, he and a group of men went and set mines on a corner of a road. When 3 trucks came around the corner one of them hit a mine. The other trucks stopped and the men got out of the back. They were all killed. When he goes out to kill he calls it putting on the gray colors of the SS.’ The woman came home and she stated the Old Man had been crying. (30) One night they had an operation where they went onto an army base with false documents that stated that they were supposed to pick up Tommy guns and ammunition. They almost got away but the man at the gate received a message that the order was not in proper authority. They already had everything loaded and they clubbed the gate guard over the head. The guard woke up and started firing at the group. David got shot and that is when he was captured. The narrator was not there but Gad was the organizer of the operation and takes blame for the capture. The narrator is used to losing friends every day. “This is war.” is used frequently. Like they are trying to justify what they are doing. Escape from any prison. Training came a little late. Losing lots of friends to war.

Chapter 4 One man was reported on by a neighbor and he went into an asylum where a friend worked. The police finally found him and the doctor said that the man thought that he was dead. They gave him 24 hours of interrogation and then they took him back to the asylum. They slapped him, and got no reaction, they also tried to make him eat, and he would not. Playing dead had changed the mans hair colour from brown to white. Gideon was called the Saint. Because he looked like a Jewish saint and because he always remained inconspicuous. His father was a rabbi. The woman was saved by a head cold. The police brought a group of women in and had an analyst listen to their voices. The voices were compared to the voice on the radio. The woman had a cold that day and her voice was not the same. She was quickly eliminated from the suspects. (40) The narrator was once saved by laughter. During his stay at a prison camp, he was supposed to go outside in very cold weather in his rags. The cell block was getting cleaned. He thought that the exposure would kill him because he had a cold. When the cleaning crew found him the leader grabbed him by the throat.

The narrators head swelled up and he looked funny. The leader let him go and started to laugh uncontrollably. The man forgot his intention to kill. Catherine was a 26-27 year old that spoke little German and while the narrator was at a summer camp in Normandy after the war. She was the only person that could talk to him. He did not know French and none of the other kids except Catherine could speak German.(48) Catherine taught him what women did to men. LOVE? They just happened to meet back up at Palestine. On a walk one night Catherine told him that some of the other girls spoke German. The narrator expressed that he had nothing to say to them. She replied. “You don’t have to say anything, . . . all you have to do is love them.” (50) She taught him about women and how and what love is. They went under a tree every night and she taught him how to do many things. She liked to make love to little boys who were going to die. This is why she was there that night. Death playing tricks.

Chapter 5 The narrator has a dream where all of the people in the room are people that he had known or killed. He kept on asking people why they were all there but no one would answer. The only person that answered was the beggar who said “This is a night of many faces.” (56) The beggar told the narrator to go and talk to a child. The child looked like himself at that age. The boy said that all of the people were there to witness him, the narrator, become a murderer. They are there to help with the execution because they know the narrator cannot do it himself. The narrators mother could only say “Poor boy, poor boy.” They told the man in the dungeon that he was going to die at dawn and the man said that he was hungry. The narrator thought that it was impossible for the man to be hungry. The stomach tells a man when he is about to die and that same stomach told the man that he was going to die. But he was also hungry. The little boy wants the narrator to give the prisoner the food. The narrator states that he does not want to be alone with the prisoner. The boy states that all of the people that are with him will go also. The little boy told the narrator that the ghosts do not go to the synagogue at midnight to pray, they go to eat. Gad ended up taking the food down to the prisoner.

The narrator admits to his friends that he is afraid. (65) He said that he was afraid to laugh at the man. The narrator tells how his mother said that there will always be a golden goat beside him no matter how old or rich he gets. The narrator is extremely worried. He says that the goat has returned to him. He lost it just as he was going into the prison camp. Ilana, the radio girl, sounds like the narrators mother. “He who has killed one man alone is a killer.” (69) There were two different kinds of light in the room. White, around the living. And black, around the ghosts. The narrator approaches the ghost of his father and asks him not to judge. He went to the ghost of his mother and he starts to cry. He tells her that she did not give birth to a murderer but to a soldier. (73) The narrator sees people that were his friends that he did not know were dead. The boy finally speaks and says that they are not there to judge. They are there because the narrator is there.

They have been, and always will be with him. The beggar brushed against the narrator and he realized that the beggar was the prophet Elijah. Gad came from watching the Captain eat and he said that the man was not hungry but he ate with good appetite. Dawn is at 5 o’clock and it is now 4 o’clock. Gad handed the narrator a revolver. The narrator asked if the prisoner had laughed. Gad replied “no” The stories that the prisoner told were funny but Gad said that he did not laugh. The narrator feels that David, the prisoner of the English, will come to the rescue. The narrator wants to go down and get to know who he is murdering. He wants to do this because war is shooting into the night and hoping that the enemy has been hit and is dead. You never know them though.(80) “I had never seen a hostage before.” (80) The narrator does not want anyone, including the ghosts to go with him to the dungeon. The Beggar states that the narrator has regained his identity. The gun is symbolized as alive. (82) Trying to convince himself that what he is about to do is the right thing. Foreshadowing?

Chapter 6 The cell was less stuffy than the room that everyone was in. The hour is moving extremely slow. “Under other circumstances he might have been my friend.” (85) The Captain knew that it was his killer. In the bible Elisha, The name of the narrator, is the deciple of Elijah, who has been the beggar. The Captain was about 40 and the executioner is 18. The Captain has a son about the same age. The son does not look unhappy, but the Cap. says that the narrator looks unhappy and has anxiety. To block his feelings the narrator starts thinking about David. The Captain asks for some paper for a letter that will be sent to his son after the execution. The nazis referred to. (90) The narrator knew an artist who had his right hand cut off by the Nazis.

The Captain had hands like the artist. The narrator cannot hate the Captain, even though hate is needed for murder. The narrator is going over what is going to happen to David.(96) The Captain asks “Why must you try to hate me ….” (97) The narrator thinks that this is a good question and says “In order to give my action a meaning which may somehow transcent it.” (98) It is now ten to 5. From this point on every min. is talked about. Feelings etc. Three minutes to five and the narrator promises that he will mail the letter the same day. The Captain does not want a blindfold. All of the ghosts enter the room with one minute to go. The boy ghost says that this is the first time that he has seen an execution. (100) The Captain is smiling. The narrator asks why and the Captain says. “I’m smiling . . . because all of a sudden it has occurred to me that I don’t know why I am dying.” (101) The captain’s last word was the name of the narrator. The ghosts started to leave the cell and the Captain walked beside the little boy. A child began to cry again. For the first time the narrator saw a face in the darkness. It was his own. Elisha restored breath to a boy, by laying on him, who stopped breathing. 1

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