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The major theme of the book is the horror that results from extreme prejudice. Because Hitler hated Jewish people, he caused them to be imprisoned, tortured, and murdered. The book records the horrendous experiences of Elie Wiesel, the Jewish author, during Hitler's reign of terror. He is arrested, imprisoned in a concentration camp, and tortured. Although he escapes death, he is totally devastated by the things he must endure and witness during the holocaust. The book is a recording of man's inhumanity to man at its worst.
The importance of religious faith is a minor theme of the book. From an early age, Elie Wiesel has a tremendous love for religion, wanting to study the Cabbala and Talmud. When he is first imprisoned, it is his faith that helps him survive. Like most of the Jews, he prays regularly for an end to the persecution and strength to survive. His faith, however, is shaken when he sees the depth of the atrocities committed against his fellow Jews. On the eve of Rosh Hashanah, he finds that he cannot even pray, questioning if God exists amongst such cruelty to mankind. In the end, his faith returns and helps him deal with his experiences.
Throughout the book, the mood is intensely gloomy to the point of total tragedy. The journeys on the cattle wagons are dehumanizing, and life at the concentration camps is hideous. The prisoners are starved, tortured, and often murdered. They never know if they will be alive the next day or the next hour. Fear is ever present. Much of the book takes place in winter, which makes the mood even gloomier. Even the title of the book, Night, suggests darkness and emptiness.