After ten years of silence about his experiences in the hell of the Nazi reign, Elie Wiesel has unleashed a literary and humanitarian career, utilizing his pen and memories as means to spread peace and stop hate and violence. And the Sea is Never Full, the memoirs of Elie Wiesel from the year 1969, is more than the attempt of a Holocaust survivor to come to terms with the world that betrayed him; it contains lessons learned by one who has seen the worst of humanity and who still finds the avenue for having faith in people. That avenue, for Elie Wiesel, is God.
Born to devout Jewish parents on September 30th, 1928 in Sighet, Hungary, Elie Wiesel spent his childhood absorbed in literature and the study of Hasidic Judaism by request of his father, Shlomo Wiesel, who encouraged Elie to take upon the knowledge of Judaic history and culture. He lived his life very peacefully in Sighet, a town with an enormous population of Jews, with his parents and his three sisters. This happiness was viciously torn away from Elie when the Nazis invaded Hungary in 1944 and the Wiesel family was sent to the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz. This time marks the beginning of the observations and influences that would lead Elie to devote his life to human rights and nonviolence work, as he narrates in And the Sea is Never Full. 10 years pass. These memoirs are an addition to the endless list of literary works that Elie Wiesel began after writing Night in 1958, his first narrative about his experiences in Auschwitz and Buchenwald, the vision of his father's torture to death, and the deaths of his mother Sara and sister Tsipora. Taking on an extensive amount of literary writings and responsibilities, Elie Wiesel's writing and political activism for the African apartheid, Israeli, and other conflicts earns him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for the influence of his pressure for peace.
The memoirs have one clear focus, and that is on the power of hate, indifference, and religion. And the Sea is Never Full relates the actions and thoughts of Elie Wiesel molded by his Holocaust experience, though it is filled with Judaic parables dispersed throughout the text as Elie Wiesel encounters new people, each one portrayed in a very raw and human light, each one a child of God. Elie Wiesel presents himself, more than anything, as a Jew and unyielding worshiper of God. He lives his life by the ideals that his Jewish childhood taught him: "It is because it is difficult if not impossible to sing, to pray, to hope that we must trip. [...] Let one person, just one, extend his hand to a beggar, a fugitive, a refugee, and life will be become meaningful for others" (Wiesel 29).
His words constantly spell out his own reflections on the events that occur in his life after 1969; And the Sea is Never Full is more a diary, a journal into the mind of a man struggling to do everything in his power to prevent the repetition of the Holocaust. Wiesel is a master traveler in his text, darting from country to country, city to city to participate in committees for Holocaust remembrance events, UNESCO planning, and to teach at City College in New York and at Boston University. We meet and lose Bea, one of Wiesel's sisters who survived the Holocaust; we meet Gorbachev, Francois Mitterrand, Hiroshima survivors, and officials of the KGB. We visit Israel and become completely involved in the strategy and hardships of securing an Israeli state, while learning about Wiesel's observations and involvement in the world events of the time. No unpleasant descriptions or life characterizations are spared. The writing is opinionated and passionate. The story is true.
While And the Sea is Never Full achieves its goal for being the personal statement of a Holocaust survivor, a global activist, and a writer, it leaves the reader confused as to what Wiesel's thoughts are concerning violence. He does not leave any room for doubt on his beliefs for peace and the importance on avoiding human indifference, but he contradicts himself with his pride in the Israeli army and its military strategy. It leaves us wondering what he respects more, an ideal or a country. What does he believe is the solution to the hate and conflict in the world? As a leader, educator, and activist, his memoirs would do well to present more of his opinion on the state of the world.
And the Sea is Never Full is a captivating account of a man who saw much of the world and created a change in every place he visited. It leaves the reader wanting to learn more about Elie Wiesel's past and the little events and images that led to his activism and writing. Night is a common educational tool, but rarely is Elie Wiesel as commonly discussed as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi. And the Sea is Never Full presents his thoughts loud and clear, pushing for more knowledge and understanding into the influences of human evil and human forgiveness.