The book I read for my book review was Dawn, by Elie Wiesel. This storyrepresents the post WWII struggle of the Israeli freedom fighters one youngman in particular, who has found himself on the other side of the gun. Wieselhimself severed his time in the death camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald duringthe War, and had previously written Night, the memoirs of his experiences. Thepurpose of this book, in my mind, was to express the inner most thoughts and theanguish of Elisha.
Elisha is 18 years old. He was recruited by a gentleman namedGad, who turned him into a fighter. He has killed before for their cause, butonly in groups never alone. Our bullets were a flaming wall on whichtheir lives were shattered My five comrades and I set out to either kill orto be killed.
Pg28. But now, Elisha wasnt in a group. He had been orderedto execute an English officer, John Dawson, as to compensate for the Britishcapturing David ben Moshe, one of their own.
In tradition, executions alwaystook place at dawn in their culture; usually around 5AM. Elisha has less thantwelve hours before he will be labeled as a murderer for the rest of his life.Hes having a difficult time coming to the reality that he is going to have tokill a man on his own. I should forget this night. But the dead neverforget In their eyes I should be forever branded a killer. Pg69.
Ofcourse, then again, if anyone were put into that position having to kill aman, who has done nothing wrong except be born of English blood I think theywould be having some serious issues with themselves as well. In the Jewishtradition, there is a lot of focus on and towards nighttime. Night is a veryimportant in that Night is purer than day; it is better for thinking andloving and dreaming.
At night everything is more intense, more true. The echo ofwords that have been spoken during the day take on a new and deeper meaning. Thetragedy of man is that he doesnt know how to distinguish between night andday. He says things at night that should only be said by day. Pg4. Also,according to their realigion, at midnight, the dead rise and go to the synagogueto pray. At one point, during the night before Dawsons death, Elisha sees theghosts of his parents, and old Master, of his fiend Yerachmiel, and of a littlebeggar boy.
These ghosts help Elisha cope with what he is about to go through.Throughout the book, there is a lot of mention of the war between theIsraelis and the British. At one point its said that, War is like nightit covers everything. I very much agree with this statement. War does covereverything, mentally, physically, and ecologically; war has no care as to who ithurts, why, or how. As Night is drawing closer to an end, Elisha realizes thathe doesnt want to go down to the basement, where John Dawson is being held,and kill a man he has never known.
Thats a cowardice thing to do in theirculture. I said that I wanted to go down before the time was up, to see thefellow, and talk, and get to know him. It was cowardly, I said, to kill acomplete stranger. It was like war, where you dont shoot at men, but into thenight you never know whether any of the enemy was killed, or which one. Toexecute a stranger would be the same thing. If I were to see him as only hedied, I would feel as if I shot at a dead man.
This, I feel is anotherpowerful quote that makes good food for thought. I, and Im sure others aswell, cant even fathom what Elisha is going through. Elisha does go down tomeet John Dawson, about an hour before the dawn. He gets to know him, about hislife, and family.
He even promises to mail a letter to Dawsons son afterhes killed. When the time comes, Elisha pulls the trigger, and although hefeels the agony that goes along with having to kill a man face to face, he doesfeel a little sense honor, not necessarily for the cause, but for himself. Thisbook, I feel, is a definitely one to read. It shows a murderer from a viewthat is rarely seen his own. And, its a rather quick read; the bookitself is of a decent length and the wording isnt difficult. It could easilybe read in a day.
Dawn made me take a look at my own life, and place myself inEllishas position. It also takes a good look inside the fighting that went onbetween the British, and the Israelis, as to give us a better understanding ofwhat really happens in a terrorist war.Book Reports