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Wiesel makes a distinction between the Holocaust victims’ control over their fate and their control over their actions. He believes man does have control over his moral choices, even when faced with the extreme circumstances of the Holocaust. Although he empathizes with the Jews who behave brutally, killing each other over crusts of bread in their fight to survive, he does not condone their behavior. At the same time, one senses that Eliezer, and Wiesel, feel there are definite limits to the victims’ control over their fate. It would be disrespectful to those who died for Eliezer—or Wiesel himself—to claim any credit for surviving.
For this reason, Night chronicles and emphasizes the set of lucky circumstances that led to the survival of one among many. The memoir is filled with bizarre coincidences. Years after the Holocaust, Eliezer randomly meets the woman who gave him comfort in Buna. In Gleiwitz, Eliezer once again meets Juliek. Eliezer’s teacher, Moshe the Beadle, somehow escapes the Nazis and returns to Sighet to convey to the town an unheeded warning. Perhaps the most bizarre coincidence of all is Eliezer’s survival. He is fortunate enough, on his arrival in Birkenau, to meet a man who tells him to lie about his age. Despite Eliezer’s small size, he does not succumb to cold or exhaustion and is not chosen in any of the selections, though many who are healthier than he is are sent to the gas chambers.