Every person that has ever walked on this earth has experienced the gut wrenching feeling of missing an opportunity you know could have offered a path for escape -knowing that you can pinpoint an exact moment in time that could have altered the course of your story. The Wiesel family is no exception to this statement. The novel, Night, by “Elie Wiesel” is a survivor’s story of his experiences in the Holocaust. It is an autobiography of his life before and during the concentration camps.
In these times the path was not always straight and the overwhelming circumstances caused people to make decisions that were rushed or insensible. People got caught up in disbelief and chose not to take action where action would have saved their lives These opportunities presented were missed or brushed aside and eventually caused thousands of people to die a merciless death within the four walls of the gas chambers. The Wiesel family missed many opportunities within the story Night that could have altered the course of their lives.
To begin with, there were opportunities for the Wiesel family to avoid death before the Germans had even invaded Sighet. “In those days it was still possible to buy emigration certificates to Palestine. I had asked my father to sell everything, to liquidate everything, and to leave” (8). If the Wiesel family would have taken this opportunity to leave, it is plausible that they could have been safe. However, their minds could not even comprehend the danger that was stalking them slowly from behind. I am too old, my son,’ he answered ‘Too old to start a new life” (9).
They had become blinded to the opportunity at hand because they did not want to believe that that level of inhumanity could exist. In addition to the fact that people had conflicting opinions on what the Nazi’s were actually doing to the Jewish people once they were taken. Some people refused to believe in the genocide at hand, instead choosing to make excuses. Anyone who chose to act ahead, against the opinions of others, were spared.
Even once the Wiesel family was transferred into the Ghetto, there was opportunity for escape. “Someone is knocking at the sealed window, the one that faces outside” (14). When it may have seemed that there were no opportunities for escape, one came knocking at their window. Opportunities were still presenting themselves even though the Ghetto was guarded. “It was only after the war that I found out who had knocked that night. It was an inspector of the Hungarian police, a friend of my fathers. Before we had entered he had told us, ‘Don’t worry.
I’ll warn you if there is danger. ” (14). Once again, if this opportunity had been seized, the Wiesel’s as a whole family unit may have been able to escape and survive the Holocaust. This is the last opportunity that would present itself to save the whole Weisel family. Opportunity came knocking, but no one was there to answer. One of the biggest opportunities that was missed appears when Elie and Mr. Wiesel are alone together in the concentration camps. As the Russian front grew closer, the inmates were being evacuated from Buna to Buchenwald.
Elie and Mr. Wiesel had to make the choice either to be left behind in the infirmary or to be evacuated with the others. “To stay, both of us, in the infirmary, where, thanks to my doctor, he could enter as either a patient or a medic” (82). The opportunity was there, easily within reach, but Elie and Mr. Wiesel chose to keep moving. “Let’s be evacuated with the others. ‘I said” (82). In situations with no guidance or premonition, our mind does what we find logical. That logic is oftentimes flawed or affected by surroundings, and does nothing but harm us.
Elie and his father chose to be evacuated with the other inmates, so at least they were not waiting for their deaths. This choice to continue moving forward, instead of waiting for the unknown, ultimately ended up taking the life of Mr. Wiesel. The Wiesel family missed many opportunities within the story Night that could have altered the course of their lives. In a world where tomorrow is not guaranteed, every opportunity is crucial to one’s survival. Unfortunately, the Wiesel family ignored the chance to emigrate to Palestine, open the boarded window in time, or stay behind in the infirmary.
These missed opportunities led to their demise with three out of the six Wiesel family members dying in the concentration camps. If even one of those opportunities would have been seized, three lives may not have gone up in the smokestacks of the crematorium. Even what appears to be the smallest of opportunities may end up saving a person’s life, as shown by the Wiesel family themselves. “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing. ” – Theodore Roosevelt.