Night/Life Is Beautiful C/C
************* ******** ************* September 26, 2011 Night and Life Is Beautiful Compare and Contrast Essay Night by Elie Wiesel and Life Is Beautiful directed by Roberto Benigni are both detailed stories of the Holocaust experienced by a father and a son. However, both feature different tones during the stories. Night uses a depressing and dark tone, while Life Is Beautiful incorporates an optimistic and joyful tone. Weisel recalls the many horrific acts witnessed and how he tried to always be with his father.
Whereas in Life Is Beautiful Guido (the father) tries to convince Joshua, his son, that this is simply for fun and they know nothing bad is going to happen. The tone in Night is depressing and centered around the oppression of the camps, yet the tone in Life Is Beautiful is humorous and the use of innocence to make a bad situation better. In Night there is always a negative outlook on what will happen next. They lost their humanity when they entered the camps and he could no longer look at himself as still human. Weisel states, “As we ran, they threw the clothes at us: pants, jackets, shirt . . In a few seconds, we had ceased to be men” (37). When Elie first entered the camp, he could tell this was going to be a life or death situation. Nothing about this is happy and the diction used is very dark leading to the depressing tone. The thought of being killed any moment lingers over all the characters throughout the story. Every day they work, they run the risk of being killed by not performing up to par. Weisel recollects a certain health exam , “Here take the knife,’ he said, ‘I won’t need it anymore.
You may find it useful’” (75). Even though Elie refuses the knife, because of believing his father would make it, both knew there was a great chance that he would not pass the health screening. Determination was all that kept both characters alive in Night, with the constant dark tone it seems as nothing good will be the outcome. Weisel continuously references the coldness he feels. “Winter had arrived. The days became short and the nights almost unbearable. From the first hours of dawn a glacial wind lashed us like a whip” (77).
The reference and depiction of winter usually is involved with the aspect of death and this was no different. Towards the end of the book the true darkness of the Holocaust is brought to life. One of the most terrible memories written is on a train ride from one part of the camp to another. A father and a son are on the same car as Elie and the father has a piece of bread, “’Meir, my little Meir! Don’t you recognize me . . . you’re killing your father . . . I have bread . . . for you too . . . for you too . . . ’ He collapsed but his fist was still clutching a small crust.
He wanted to raise it through his mouth. But the other threw himself on him” (102). The true tone of this is quite horrific and Weisel does a good job portraying it through the dark descriptive text. The disregard for others in order for self preservation is one of the most selfish acts that can be committed. However, in Life Is Beautiful the tone could not be more different. Before the Holocaust happens, Guido is a very happy man always talking loud and expressing himself with no regret complementing people wherever he goes.
When the first discrimination happens against him he simply makes a joke out of it and tells his son, Joshua, that everything is okay. When they are finally taken away, Guido comes up with the idea that this is just a game. While being forced on the train, he shouts the happiness he has and how urgent it is for Joshua to get on the train since, “they had had these tickets for a while”. When they arrive at the camp, Guido can most certainly tell that this is not good but acts so happy that he is there in order to make Joshua comfortable and not scared.
His dedication to the protection of his son is certainly seen when he gets up and incorrectly interprets the orders of the guards into the rules of the game he had created. The presence of love in Life Is Beautiful also sets it apart from Night. The entire reason for the game is to protect Joshua, which is a natural instinct from Guido in order to protect his son out of love. Not only is his love directed towards Joshua but also his wife Dora. The desire for something keeps people alive during these situations.
In this instance each family member had two other forms of motivation to fight on and try their best to stay alive. Night uses dark descriptions and emotional quotes to express its tone of negativity and sadness and of the oppression endured by Elie and his father. The tone in Life Is Beautiful however, uses humor to turn a bad situation into an optimistic look on the outcome. Even though both stories are about the Holocaust they take different but accurate approaches to tell about the events they underwent during that unfortunate event and how they made their way through it.