Night – Study Notes (Motifs)

Night by Elie Wiesel
Motifs and Archetypes
Motif(s) and Archetype(s)
An archetype is an original or fundamental imaginative pattern that is repeated
through the ages. These are the character types who show up over and over again in
literature no matter what era. As well, archetypes can be symbols/or situations.
For example, in Star Wars, you've got:
- the evil villain (Darth Maul, Darth Vader, the Emperor)
- the damsel in distress (Princess Leia)
- t he hero (Hans Solo, Luke Skywalker)
- the sage or wise man (Yoda, the Jedi Counsel)
A motif is a detail within the story that repeats itself throughout the work. Examples
of common motifs include colors, character traits, objects, locations, or situations.
For example, in the movie The Sixth Sense, the director, M, Night Shyamalan,
consistently uses the colour red. For instance:
- character Cole wears a red sweater
- red balloon floats to the attic during the birthday scene
- Bruce Willis’ character, Malcolm, jiggles a red doorknob several time
These may seem like coincidences but the director consistently repeats the red motif
to make the viewer aware of an upcoming supernatural event.
Common Archetypes
Some common character archetypes are:
- hero/heroine
- innocent
- Villain
- misfit/rebel
- individualist
- misogynist (hates or dislikes women)
- the scapegoat
Some common symbol/situation archetypes are:
- the quest
- loss of innocent
Be aware of the different archetypes that arise in
the novel. Some basic archetypes are:
- The Scapegoat: the Jewish people were
the target for annihilation through Hitler
manifesting their dislike of monetary wealth
and gain.
- Loss of Innocent – through extreme
violence, Elie and the Jewish people change.
Night Study Guide Notes
 The
original title Elie Wiesel gave the
novel was And the World Has Remained
 He wrote this book after 10 years of
 By the end of the Holocaust, over 6 million
Jews had been killed.
Night Study Guide Notes
 There
are five motifs to look for while
reading Night:
Night – pay attention to what happens at night
and what that might symbolize. Remember
what we learned when we talked about
archetypes and what night might symbolize.
Bearing Witness – Pay attention to which
characters are witnesses and to what they
bear witness.
Night Study Guide Notes
 Motifs
Father-son Relationships – Pay attention to
how Elie and his father’s relationship
develops; in addition, notice other father-son
relationships in the book.
Loss of faith – Notice how Elie’s faith in God
changes as the book progresses. Write on
your study guides where these changes
Night Study Guide Notes
 Motifs
Voice vs. Silence – Who has a voice and who
chooses to remain silent? Why might Elie
Wiesel title his novel what he did originally,
and why did he no longer remain silent?
Night Study Guide Notes
 In
Poland, 90% of the approximately
3,000,000 Jews were murdered in the
 As you read, look for times that Wiesel
mentions the people in surrounding towns.
 There are several groups who contributed
to the Holocaust, persecutors and bystanders included.
 Why are by-standers just as important as
the persecutors?