One Final Night (A Short Story)


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Why the short story is the perfect literary form for the 21st century

The prisoners are forced to watch the hanging of fellow prisoners in the camp courtyard. On one occasion, the Gestapo even hang a small child who had been associated with some rebels within Buna. Because of the horrific conditions in the camps and the ever-present danger of death, many of the prisoners themselves begin to slide into cruelty, concerned only with personal survival. Sons begin to abandon and abuse their fathers. Eliezer himself begins to lose his humanity and his faith, both in God and in the people around him. After months in the camp, Eliezer undergoes an operation for a foot injury.

While he is in the infirmary, however, the Nazis decide to evacuate the camp because the Russians are advancing and are on the verge of liberating Buna. In the middle of a snowstorm, the prisoners begin a death march: they are forced to run for more than fifty miles to the Gleiwitz concentration camp. Many die of exposure to the harsh weather and exhaustion. At Gleiwitz, the prisoners are herded into cattle cars once again. They begin another deadly journey: one hundred Jews board the car, but only twelve remain alive when the train reaches the concentration camp Buchenwald.

Throughout the ordeal, Eliezer and his father help each other to survive by means of mutual support and concern. Eliezer survives, an empty shell of a man until April 11, , the day that the American army liberates the camp. Home Literature Night Plot Overview. Night by: Elie Wiesel.

Guide One Final Night (A Short Story)

Themes Motifs Symbols Key Facts. Important Quotations Explained. Summary Plot Overview. Also jewelry, bracelets and necklaces, and a lacquer box with all her rings. She had looked through the lacquer box at length and picked several. Then, as if suddenly remembering, she smiled at them. A frightening smile. It seemed to mean just the opposite. It was the night they had decided would be the one. On a saucer in the refrigerator, the syringe lay. Her doctor had supplied the contents. But a farewell dinner first, if she were able. It should not be just the two of them, Marit had said.

Her instinct. Susanna was younger. She had a wide face and high, pure forehead.

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She looked like the daughter of a professor or banker, slightly errant. Dirty girl, one of their friends had commented about her, with a degree of admiration. Susanna, sitting in a short skirt, was already a little nervous. It was hard to pretend it would be just an ordinary dinner. It would be hard to be offhanded and herself.


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She had come as dusk was falling. The house with its lighted windows—every room seemed to be lit—had stood out from all the others like a place in which something festive was happening. Marit gazed at things in the room, the photographs with their silver frames, the lamps, the large books on Surrealism, landscape design, or country houses that she had always meant to sit down with and read, the chairs, even the rug with its beautiful faded color.

She looked at it all as if she were somehow noting it, when in fact it all meant nothing. Certain memories are what you long to take with you, she thought, memories before Walter, from when she was a girl. Home, not this one but the original one with her childhood bed, the window on the landing out of which she had watched the swirling storms of long-ago winters, her father bending over her to say good night, the lamplight in which her mother was holding out a wrist, trying to fasten a bracelet.

That home.

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The rest was less dense. The rest was a long novel so like your life; you were going through it without thinking and then one morning it ended: there were bloodstains.

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It was in the uterus and had travelled from there to the lungs. In the end, she had accepted it. Above the square neckline of her dress the skin, pallid, seemed to emanate a darkness.

She no longer resembled herself. What she had been was gone; it had been taken from her. The change was fearful, especially in her face. She had a face now that was for the afterlife and those she would meet there. It was hard for Walter to remember how she had once been. She was almost a different woman from the one to whom he had made a solemn promise to help when the time came. Susanna sat in the back as they drove. The roads were empty. They passed houses showing a shifting, bluish light downstairs.

Marit sat silent. She felt sadness but also a kind of confusion. She was trying to imagine all of it tomorrow, without her being here to see it. She could not imagine it. It was difficult to think the world would still be there. At the hotel, they waited near the bar, which was noisy. Men without jackets, girls talking or laughing loudly, girls who knew nothing.


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  5. On the walls were large French posters, old lithographs, in darkened frames. He was looking at the list, on which the prices were in roughly ascending order. There was a Cheval-Blanc for five hundred and seventy-five dollars. This Cheval-Blanc, do you have this? The two of them had often eaten here, usually near the bar, with its gleaming rows of bottles.

    They had never ordered wine that cost more than thirty-five dollars. Dinner was quiet. It was difficult to talk casually. They had two bottles of the wine, however. He would never drink this well again, Walter could not help thinking. It would be nice to have always drunk it. She said it in a way that was enormously touching. They were all feeling better. They sat for a while and finally made their way out. The bar was still noisy. Marit stared out the window as they drove. She was tired. They were going home now.

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    The wind was moving in the tops of the shadowy trees. In the night sky there were brilliant blue clouds, shining as if in daylight. She was silent for a few moments. We never had children, she said. Do you wish you had children? She was tired when they reached the house.

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    They sat together in the living room as if they had come from a big party but were not quite ready for bed. Walter was thinking of what lay ahead, the light that would come on in the refrigerator when the door was opened. The needle of the syringe was sharp, the stainless-steel point cut at an angle and like a razor.

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    One Final Night (A Short Story) One Final Night (A Short Story)
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