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“Night” by Elie Wissel and “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck

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When you find yourself in an obstacle that you can not escape or at your lowest point, your soul and mind become dark and you feel that have no way out, you begin to see life very differently. You now are able to analyze the world, and shift through all the bells and whistles in it and see the truth, which was once hidden from you. I think that is exactly that Theodore Roethke meant when he wrote “In a dark time, the eye begins to see,…” Personally, I agree fully with Roethke’s statement. Roethke’s ideology is found in both “Night” by Elie Wiesel and “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck. In both novels the protagonists are faced with obstacles which seem impossible to overcome, however once they reach “rock bottom” they realize how they shall over come their situation.

In “Night” by Elie Wiesel, the main character, Eliezer was faced with a conflict that changed his life and the lives everyone he loved. He was forced to face the terrors of the Holocaust, man versus society. Nevertheless, Eliezer faced much more than the Holocaust, he faced himself, man versus man. In Night, Eliezer’s mind toggled the many conflicts of his daily life, especially deciding whether or not he wanted to live. The climax of the novel is also the point in which Eliezer reached his lowest point; this is when Eliezer loses his faith in God, which has been very important to him throughout his life.

Eliezer was so horrified by the torture that he witnessed and endured, and questions if God exists. At this point Eliezer realizes that his fate is p to him, to a certain extent. He realizes that in order to survive and be happy with his family once again, he must stay strong and never give up. In addition, throughout the novel Elie Wiesel repeated the main theme of his novel, “never forget”. Eliezer’s darkest time allowed his eyes to open and see the gravity of his situation and the horror that results from extreme prejudice. By doing so Elie Wiesel is now able to tell others of consequences of prejudice of any kind. The life of Elie Wiesel exemplifies the meaning of Theodore Roethke’s quote very well.

The novel “Of Mice and Men” also embodies the meaning of Theodore Roethke’s quote, “In a dark time, the eye begins to see,…” very well. The protagonist, George and his obedient and loyal friend Lennie, a minor charter were faced with the impossible challenge of achieving the American Dream. However, the conflict that impacted them the greatest was Lennie’s many internal conflicts. Lennie was a very kind hearted man, however, he had a child’s mentality and a giant’s body and as a result these contrasting qualities, Lennie got himself into many problems. Like Night, the climax of Of Mice and Men is also the point in which the protagonist reaches his lowest point. The climax of Of Mice and Men occurs when Lennie accidentally kills Curley’s wife. This causes George to open his eyes and see that he can not protect Lennie any longer, because society’s will not tolerate Lennie’s behavior, regardless of his mental condition.

This realization, forced George to mercifully shoot his friend, in a selfless act to save him from the hands of Curley and the angry ranch hands. After selflessly murdering Lennie, Steinbeck paints George as feeling lost and alone, which I believe is George’s realization that through all his trials and tribulations, and going against society for the majority of his life, that he finally gave in. He is now like all the other ranch hands, alone and dreamless. Theodore Roethke’s quote, “In a dark time, the eye begins to see,…” shows to be true in Steinbeck’s novel Of Mice and Men, but it also proves that when you begin to see the truth unfold around you the best and not always eminent.

Eliezer and George both inhibit the meaning of Roethke’s quote, but in different ways. Eliezer in Night shows that seeing the truth when you are at rock bottom can only lead you upwards. Whereas, George shows that seeing the truth when you are at your lowest point, can sometimes be too much and bring you down even lower. Nonetheless, the two novels demonstrate the meaning of Theodore Roethke’s quote, which is when you are at your lowest point, you are able to see the truths around you.

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