This year we will be covering several pieces of non-fiction literature in preparation for the AP English Language & Composition test. This is the first piece that we will cover. It is a memoir/autobiography of Elie Wiesel's experiences in the Nazi concentration camps during World War II. He was a survivor, but it is not only the story of how he survived to write this story, but also the story of his family.
The story mainly takes place in war torn Poland and the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. It was a brutal place were on average 10,000 Jews were sent to their death every day.
- Eliezer Wiesel - the narrator of the book who is taken to concentration camps in both Czechoslovakia and Germany at the age of fourteen. He is very devoted to his religion.
- Chlomo Wiesel - Eliezer's father is a respected man within the Jewish community in their hometown. He is a member of the Jewish council and refuses to try and escape the country. He is fifty years old when the story takes place.
- Moche the Beadle - he is a humble, poor man that works for a synagogue. He is very religious and teaches Eliezer about the cabbala. He is deported early in the war to a concentration camp, but he escapes. When he arrives back in town and tells of the horrors he experienced, everyone ignores him thinking he has gone mad.
- Eliezer's mother - She is separated from her family upon arriving at Birkenau.
- Tzipora - Eliezer's seven-year-old sister.
If you are interested there is a video on youtube that might help you to review for the test or give you a general idea of the novel.
There are several Jewish terms that might be difficult for you to understand. I have included the words and their definitions for you below.
- Torah - The primary source in the Jewish religion is the Hebrew Bible. It consists of twenty-four books that are divided into three sections. The Torah includes the first five books of the Bible.
- Talmud - This is a collection of teachings of the early rabbis from the 5th and 6th centuries. This is the next most important piece of literature in the Jewish religion.
- Caballa - Hasidic Jews read this mystical commentary on the Torah.
- Rosh Hashanah - Marks the new year of the Jewish calendar.
- Yom Kippur - This is the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. It is considered to be the day in which every individual is judged by God.
- Passover - This is an eight-day festival commemorating the freeing of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage.