Chapters 6-9

Why does Juliek play his violin as he lies dying in the mass of bodies?

Asked by
Last updated by jill d #170087
Answers 1
Add Yours

The image of Juliek playing the violin in the crowded barracks is the most beautiful one in the entire novel. Throughout the novel, Eliezer comments on how silent the barracks generally are at night, but this silence is one of terror, nightmares, and desperate exhaustion. As noted earlier, silence is one of the main themes of the novel, and sounds that break the silence, such as Madame Schaechter's hysterical screaming, prove very noticeable. Similarly, Juliek's violin-playing disrupts the silence, this time filling the night with rare beauty and poignancy: "He played a fragment from Beethoven's concerto. I had never heard sounds so pure. In such a silence." Juliek's music is unusually touching and heartrending because he puts his whole being into his playing. After being denied his life, humanity, and future by the Nazis and after having becoming emotionally numb from his time in the concentration camp, Juliek takes everything that has been denied him and infuses it into his music: "He was playing his life. The whole of his life was gliding on the strings‹his lost hopes, his charred past, his extinguished future. He played as he would never play again." The words "charred" and "extinguished" evoke the image of the fiery crematory and emphasize how crudely and barbarously the Nazis destroyed human life in the concentration camps.