Critical Essays Literary Devices


A professional journalist of Elie Wiesel's experience demonstrates that a knowledge and application of literary devices become a natural part of writing. Sprinkled sparsely, yet precisely through the straightforward narrative are language patterns that enhance thought and emotion. For example:


Have mercy on him! I, his only son!

Blessed be the Name of the Eternal!

Periodic sentences

I would often sit with him in the evening after the service, listening to his stories and trying my hardest to understand his grief.

Despite the trials and privations, his face still shone with his inner purity.

Balanced sentences

I had known that he was at the end, on the brink of death, and yet I had abandoned him.

During the day I studied the Talmud, and at night I ran to the synagogue to weep over the destruction of the Temple.

Extended appositives

The Jews of Sighet — that little town in Transylvania where I spent my childhood — were very fond of him.

Suddenly, someone threw his arms around my neck in an embrace: Yechiel, brother of the rabbi of Sighet.

Sentence fragments

Revolvers, machine guns, police dogs.

Perhaps less than that even: a starved stomach.


He looked us over as if we were a pack of leprous dogs hanging onto our lives.

Monday passed like a small summer cloud, like a dream in the first daylight hours.

Rhetorical questions

Had I changed so much, then?

Poor Father! Of what then did you die?

Cause and effect

"Man raises himself toward God by the questions he asks Him," he was fond of repeating.

To this day, whenever I hear Beethoven played my eyes close and out of the dark rises the sad, pale face of my Polish friend, as he said farewell on his violin to an audience of dying men.


"I can see them, son. I can see them all right. Let them sleep. It's so long since they closed their

eyes . . . They are exhausted . . . exhausted . . ."

His voice was tender.

I yelled against the wind:

"They'll never wake again! Never! Don't you understand?"

"What do you want?"

"My father's ill," I answered for him. "Dysentery. . ."

"Dysentery? That's not my business. I'm a surgeon. Go on! Make room for the others."


Jews, listen to me! I can see a fire! There are huge flames! It is a furnace.

The Jews in Budapest are living in an atmosphere of fear and terror. There are anti-Semitic incidents every day, in the streets, in the trains.

Short declarative sentences

I hadn't any strength left for running. And my son didn't notice. That's all I know.

I was fifteen years old.