Jared Maynard


In this New York Times article, Donadio brings up some interesting points of criticism of Ellie Weisels’s Night. Night is a very popular novel, and one that we have done extensive analysis on, but it does not hide from critical reviews. Critical analysis of a text is always a good thing and something we strive for in this class. It helps to think about the text in different and critical ways. It helps to see the validity in a document and question what it is really telling in a situation. The Holocaust is a topic that more and more people are trying to figure out. It was a horrible event that is hard to comprehend people being a part of. Night does give a great first person narrative of a real-life but does it give us the whole story? Do certain parts of the story try to convey a meaning that deters away from the main point? Are there other parts of the story that promote other meanings that are potentially bad? Or are is this story just not very good or telling? These are some of the questions critics try to answer or critique. Critiques are also important because criticism open’s the public eye to new books. People naturally want to know what is controversial. It can raise public intellect because it gives readers new ways of looking at novels and have them question why certain things are the way they are in a novel. It can also make literature better in the future because if something is not true or not all the way true, authors will do more research and think about criticism before they even start and make the novel richer.

Your task is to either write about the different critiques Donadio talks about in his article or to make a critique of your own. Either way you must create or defend an argument and back it up with relevant details. The point is to inform people of a different perspective that an average person may not exactly catch after one read. If the argument is not backed up with relevant details to support your argument then it probably won’t make much sense and the reader will dismiss it. 2-3 pages should be enough length to get your thoughts out.

Today is Friday and you will have until Monday to turn in a rough draft and will have until next Friday to turn in a final copy. On Monday you will workshop your rough drafts with other students, and then have the rest of the week to finish.


  • Does Night fail to create a coherent artistic world out of one which was the deliberate negation of all values?
  • Does Weisel simply just “pour salt” on the Jewish wounds and not let them heal?
  • Does Weisel promote “peace and human dignity” with this novel? (What he won the Nobel Prize for)
  • Is Weisel too “universal” with his writing? Should he include more details about what happened?
  • Do you think Weisel is just looking for press and wrote the story for publicity?
  • Or write about something else you found odd or in need of criticism.

Your papers will be graded on:

Thesis/Argument The argument is grounded with sufficient details and makes sense There are some good details to back up a relatively good argument The argument is not supported with good details The argument makes no sense
Paragraph Structure Each paragraph details a specific example of the argument and explains it clearly Each paragraph details an example of the argument and Paragraphs are fuzzy and seem to just be thrown in there No structure at all
Cohesiveness Flows easily and is well organized Flows somewhat well an has some degree of organization Scattered, unorganized Didn’t even try to write much at all
Grammar Less than 1 or 2 grammar mistakes Less than 1 or 2 grammar mistakes but a couple spelling errors Enough grammar errors to distract the reader Too many grammar errors

This assignment will be done somewhat towards the end of the year in an 11th grade classroom. It is part of Unit 11.5 which is called, “The DNA of Survival”. As a reader I want them to learn about the depths of human tragedy and how people survive horrific events. I want them to read and find out what sacrifices of everyday life people have to give up. I want them to learn how to be open-minded when reading and apply the experiences to their lives.

As writers I want them to pay attention to specific events and analyze them. The point of this writing assignment is to think of the story and what makes it work and what does not make it work. This essay is to make them pick apart the novel and to create, come up with, argue against, or argue for an argument.

For the GLECS it fits under Unit 11.5 under Literacy Criticism. It involves critical reading of the text to find aspects to argue for. It also makes the students write a persuasive essay finding supporting evidence to back up the argument.

In the broad sense of the curriculum, this will be the final assignment before reading Maus. It will give them experience of looking at critiques of texts and experience in persuasive essays and critiques. After reading Maus they will do a comparative essay of the two survival novels.