Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Autobio & Memoir

This week we were assigned to read Beach's chapter 7: "How do I Help Students Understand What They Are Reading" along with our assigned autobio/memoir, I chose Ellie Wiesel's Night.

Night is about Eliezer, a Jewish teen from Transylvania. Things get out of hand when his teacher returns after getting deported with a horrific story of the Nazi's that took over his train and assassinated everyone on board. Unfortunately, no one believes Mr. Moshe. In the Spring, the Nazis take over Hungary, forcing the townspeople of Transylvania into ghettos. Soon after, everyone is forced onto cattle cars like a bunch of animals where the real nightmare begins. After being split up by the rest of their family, never to see them again, Eleizer and his father are sent to work, they are scarred when noticing a horrendous fire pit where the Nazi's are burning innocent babies alive. Eleizer, a once religious and hopeful teen loses his faith in God and humanity as he lives through the torture and humiliation around him. The once close knit community also shattered. Once again his camp is evacuated and forced to a deadly march, only twelve out of one hundred surviving. Soon, his father, the only man he was able to depend on and stick with dies, leaving Eleizer to fend for his own, a job he does until the U.S liberates them in April of 1945.

Night is an extremely touching and somewhat difficult novel to read, bringing me to the Beach chapter. It is important for students to understand the topic of this novel prior to its reading especially with the Jewish terminology throughout the book, that was a bit confusing to me as a reader knowing nothing about it. I think students would have to prepare to read this graphic book after being taught about the Holocaust  One activity I suggest is watching the Anne Frank memoir and even taking a field trip to the Holocaust museum would be a thoughtful hands on approach for the students to get to know the basis of this story before jumping into Night. Another way would be to have the students try to relate to the aspect of discrimination, possibly even abuse: if they've experienced it or know anyone whose been involved. I think this would be an eye opening unit, making the students humbler, more grateful for what is in front of them (perfect for the week of Thanksgiving!) and more compassionate with others around them.


  1. Mabelyn,

    Excellent ideas to help students learn the necessary background information and connect it to their own lives. Did you think any of the elements (themes or people) in Night transcend the holocaust experience? Is there value to teaching this memoir?

  2. I think there is definitley value in teaching this memoir. The Holocaust was a very tragic and important period in history that effected many people. It's important that our students are aware and understand this experience, and the memoir is an alternative to the usual Anne Frank text, and can help students who normally wouldn't relate to the holocaust, making them empathize with the characters, and possibly make them a bit more humbler and thankful for what they have.