In Night by Elie Wiesel, their are several instances of public hangings. Elie feels
different about hanging the three men who steal soup, and the sad eyed angel. The public
hangings are used as examples to what happens to prisoners if they break one of the
rules. Elie has vivid memories about the public hanging. He tells us about them in the
One of the instances of a hanging, was when the sad eyed angel was hung. He was
a kapo in the camp Elie was in. Elie liked him because of his kindness. He seemed to be
the only officer in the camp that had an ounce of compassion. He hung for knowing
about a secret weapon stash and not telling about it. For Elie, this symbolized the death
of hope. This is where he started to loose faith in god.
Another instance of a hanging, was when the three men where hanged for stealing
soup. This did not effect Elie in the same way. He felt that they brought the death on
themselves. They were paying the price for stealing the soup. He did not question the
hanging. He knew if you break the rules, you will be killed. It was common knowledge
in the camps. I am sure the men knew this, they were just overcome with hunger and
could not think strait.
The hangings lowered Elie’s faith in god. Everytime someone died in the camp,
Elie would stop believing in god just a little more. This ended with the death of his
father. The first hanging Elie witnessed, was devastating. He had never seen anything
like it. One horrific experience for Elie was when one person did not die during the
hanging. He did not weigh enough for the fall to break his neck. He hung suffocating for
All the hangings were terrible experiences for Elie. Nobody could not walk away
unaffected by the hangings. Every public killing deteriorated Elie’s faith. The sad eyed
angel was the end of hope for Elie. After that, he understood the murderous nature of the
Holocaust. Elie walked away a completely different person than how he entered.