- Mass Market Paperback: 102 pages
- Publisher: Bantam; Reissue edition (September 1, 1982)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0553225367
- ISBN-13: 978-0553225365
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.3 x 6.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 36 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,004,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Dawn Mass Market Paperback – August 1, 1982
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An illuminating document . . . the plight of traditional Jewish morality confronted with the modern world of power politics and of murder."--Maxwell Geismar
From the Publisher
"Two men wait through the night in British-controlled Palestine for dawn--and for death. One is a captured English officer. The other is Elisha, a young Israeli freedom fighter whose assignment is to kill the officer in reprisal for Britain's execution of a Jewish prisoner. Elisha's past is the nightmare memory of Nazi death camps. He is the only surviving member of his family. His future is a cherished dream of life in the promised homeland. But at daybreak his present will become the tortured reality of a principled man ordered to commit cold-blooded murder. Resonant with feeling, Dawn is an unforgettable journey into the human heart--and an eloquent statement about the moral basis of the new Israel.
"An illuminating document . . . the plight of traditional Jewish morality confronted with the modern world of power politics and of murder."--Maxwell Geismar
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"A man hates his enemy because he hates his own hate. He says to himself: This fellow, my enemy, has made me capable of hate. I hate him not because he’s my enemy, not because he hates me, but because he arouses me to hate." - Elie Wiesel, Dawn (less)
Elisha is an eighteen year old Holocaust survivor recruited by the Israeli Resistance Movement to fight against the British occupation in Palestine. He comes out of the war understandably traumatized and is now faced with the moral dilemma of having to murder a British captain held captive as a reprisal for the capture of one of their own, David ben Moshe.
Elisha is assigned to the task by the masked Old One, the leader of the Resistance Movement. The Resistance would spare Captain John Dawson's life if David ben Moshe is returned to them, but the British do not want to concede. Two lives are held in the balance as a political stand by each side's perpetuation of war. Though Elisha has seen death many times during the Holocaust, and has even murdered from afar while fighting in battles in the Resistance, he has never singularly murdered a man whose name and face stands before him and so he feels he will be forever changed by the experience.
He has many visitors. The fellow comrades in the Movement, particularly Gad, who as a mentor and recruitor to Elisha, chides him for his withdrawn gloomy behavior during the wait for dawn to kill the man by reminding him, "This is War". The other comrades do their best to persuade Elisha that the act is necessary in order to secure their survival after the persecution suffered during the war. But the most significant visitors are the ghosts of his past and his imagination: he sees a beggar he once met in his hometown before the War; a young boy who reminds Elisha of himself when he was his age; his Rabbi before the War; his father, mother,and friend who were each murdered in the camps; everyone who's ever shaped his life. Elisha says to himself that these people too will be murdered along with him because they had shaped his life and after this act they will never see him the same just as he won't see himself the same. All of who he was will be wiped out.
The premise is haunting and the thematic question of whether murder can ever deliver justice is pressing. Wiesel never outright answers the question. He seems to give creedence to the idea of fighting for the Homeland by not openly stating that the Resistance's cause is unjust. But he also seems to give creedence to the idea that murder, of even one man with a name, a face, a wife, a kid, kills the executor as well-- a spiritual and psychological execution for his actions.
Wiesel's artful poetic prose is thought-provoking and powerful. This very short piece will leave its mark on you. Highly recommended.
Elisha, fresh from the horrors of the concentration camps, has regained strength in France, and he now finds himself part of the Zionist movement in the mid-1900s, fighting for the freedom and independence of a Jewish state. The story covers less than twenty-four hours, as the young Zionists hold hostage a British soldier, planning to execute him in retaliation for the upcoming hanging of a Jewish man at the prison in Acre. Elisha is the one ordered to pull the trigger, and he suffers through many thoughts and conflicting questions as he waits for the final showdown with their British captive. "Where is God to be found? In suffering or in rebellion? When is a man most truly a man? When he submits or when he refuses? Where does suffering lead him?"
Wiesel, drawing on his own experiences as a persecuted Jew, raises valid questions and refuses to give easy answers. Even as Elisha and his comrades agree that the Jews can no longer sit back and accept persecution, they must face the reality that to resist suffering may mean they themselves may perpetuate violence and hatred. It's an eternal struggle, and one that becomes firsthand for young Elisha. He feels the eyes of death upon him, feels himself becoming those eyes that stare at others.
His final decision is neither surprising nor inevitable; it is the simple reaction to his past, his present, and the future he imagines awaits him if he does not choose wisely. In the end, his future remains a face of darkness, and we as readers are left to wrestle, as he is, with the tough dilemmas that still remain in the Jewish state and the Palestinian territories. If this is "Dawn," then the night is sure to be very dark.
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meant to be killed at the same time, at dawn.Read more