While Elie and his father are the only two characters who feature throughout the entire book, those who come and go, losing their lives, saving others, caring for one another, and showing cruelty is equally important in the broad landscape the depict of Elie’s time in Auschwitz/Birkenau.
Eliezer is the main character of Night and a stand-in for the author, Elie Wiesel, himself. He’s a thoughtful teenager who tells the story from a first-person perspective. His personal account of the Holocaust is what makes this story so harrowing and hard to forget. Although Eliezer is meant to be Elie Wiesel, there are a few differences between them. This allowed the author, as he described, to distance himself slightly from the story.
Eliezer struggles with his faith and his family throughout the novel. He questions justice and the world he’s living in, something that haunted Wiesel throughout his life. While in Auschwitz he goes through a transformation. Starting out as a self-described spoiled child to a kind, and becoming a generous young man who gives up his gold crown to spare his father from a beating. By the end of the novel, the sick, emaciated Wiesel who comes out of the camp is entirely different from the healthy child who went in.
We were all going to die here. All limits had been passed. No one had any strength left. And again the night would be long.A quote from Night by Eliezel
Eliezer’s mother. A quiet woman who Elie sees for the final time stroking his sister’s hair.
Eliezer’s father and the only other character besides Elie who is present throughout the novel. He’s a kind, respected member of the Jewish community and suffers as Elie does through their time in the camp.
Moishe the Beadle
Elie’s mentor and a man who’s described as hesitant and dreamy. He is usually reserved but develops a friendship with Elie in their village. He escapes from the Gestapo in Poland and returns to tell the villagers what happened to him. Due in part to Moishe’s PTSD, no one in the community takes him seriously.
He is the first character introduced in the novel and is noted as being committed to Judaism and Jewish mysticism. He talks about the universe, its mysteries, and God’s importance in trying to make sense of it. This understanding is at the centre of the novel as Elie struggle to make sense of his experiences and what role God played or didn’t play in them. Moishe’s words resonate throughout the novel as Elie questions God’s presence. It is, Moishe would say, a continued commitment to faith to ask questions.
When considering Moishe’s character, it is also important to note the similarities between him and the author, Elie Wiesel, who often spoke about the dangers of remaining silent. In speaking out, Moishe did what Wiesel fought to do throughout his life.
A singer with a deep voice and a victim of the Holocaust who loses his faith in God due to his time in Auschwitz. He’s selected at Block 36 and no one remembers his request for a Kaddish.
A fifty-year-old woman whose husbands and two sons were separated from her. She’s alone with her ten-year-old son and her mental state falls apart. She rides on the same cattle car as Eliezer and everyone thinks she’s mad. She screams and cries “Fire” when she sees the furnaces from a distance.
A musician Elie meets at Auschwitz. He plays the violin after the death march to Gleiwitz. Juliek wears spectacles and is from Poland. He’s found dead after this final performance of a Beethoven concerto, his violin smashed.
Tibi and Yosi
Two Czech brothers who Elie besoms friends with. Their parents were killed at Birkenau.The two dream of immigrating to Palestine. They also accompany Elie when he avoids Dr. Mengele during selection at Block 36.
Dr. Josef Mengele
The notorious Nazi doctor known for conducting horrifying experiments on those at Auschwitz. He presides over those who arrive at the camp, choosing who lives and dies. He’s nicknamed the “Angel of Death.” Mengele sentenced innumerable men, women, and children to the gas chambers.
A Kapo prisoner who’s used by the Nazis to watch other prisoners. He works at the electrical equipment warehouse in Buna. Idek beats Eliezer in one moment of rage. He doesn’t appear to have any control over his anger.
An old Polish holy man who creates a comforting ministry among those in the camps. He always maintains a kind expression on his face and is compared to a biblical prophet. His son abandons him and Eliezer hopes and prayers that he’ll never act towards his father as Rabbi Eiahou’s son did towards his.
Immerses himself in the Talmud in order to escape from reality. Zalman works at the electrical warehouse and suffers from intestinal cramps. He’s sinks down to relieve himself and Elie assumes that he trampled to death by inmates.
A gardener at Buna and a friend of Elie’s father. Elie’s father calls on Meir Katz for help when a prisoner attacks Elie. He looks back over his recent experiences and loses hope as he thinks about his son being selected for the crematories.
Stein of Antwerp
A man who asks Elie if he has any news in regard to his family, who emigrated from Belgium. Elie lies, suggesting the family is safe in Antwerp and receives half rations of bread for his assistance. This fantasy brought Stein some peace.
A villager who reports that fascists are harming Hungarian Jews in Budapest.
The Wiesel’s neighbor who lets a German officer live with her. He buys her chocolate.
A German Jew who helps get extra soup for the young and weak.
The Wiesels’ servant who tries to get them to leave the ghetto and go to safety with her.
A son whose ordered to put his father’s body in the crematorium, another example of intense father/son relationships in the novel.
Elie’s oldest sister who works in the family store and is about to get married at the beginning of the novel.
The second oldest child in the Wiesel family.
Elie’s seven-year-old sister who remains silent, like her mother, and doesn’t complain about the load she has to carry as they march to the cattle car. Is last seen with Elie’s mother.