Was there ever a time when someone demanded for something, but you refused, knowing very well they were going to get what they wanted anyway? This happens between me and my mom once every two weeks. She demands I clean the house, I refuse, and then she threatens to kick me out. I end up cleaning anyway, yet I ALWAYS stubbornly decline, putting it off as long as possible without being forced to sleep in the streets. You may view me as a rebellious teenager that’s too lazy to do house cleaning every two weeks, but honestly, this applies to all humans and even animals.
In Night, there was a particular scene that perked my interest. At the concentration camp, a tent leader’s aide tried bribing the main character (author) for his shoes – the only things he had left. Realizing the aide really liked his shoes, he refused to let him have it. In the end, the shoes got taken away from him anyway, in exchange for nothing. When I first read this scene, I felt that the main character was being somewhat foolish. He could have traded his shoes for some food, but stubbornly, he refused to let the aide have them until they were taken away by force. And then I realized what the author was trying to argue against. Reading the scene now, I feel that if I was in the author’s shoes, I would do the exact same thing as he did. I can relate to how he was feeling then or at least guess what he was feeling, since he was about my age and probably was as stubborn as I am. He didn’t want to give them something they liked, something that they wanted. After making his life a living Hell, he wasn’t just going to simply hand over something they desired. No, he was going to refuse until he couldn’t. He didn’t care about the extra portion of food he was going to get in exchange for the shoes, it was food served by the enemy after all. His refusal, ridiculous as it seemed over a pair of shoes, was his way of fighting back. It was his way of saying, “You want my shoes? Too bad, I’m not going to just hand them over to you. You’re going to work for it. You’re going to get them eventually, but not without a struggle”. He knew it was a futile effort, but fighting back, refusing to let them have their way, was in itself satisfying enough.
Animals experience this all the time. When their predators try to get them, they run as fast as they can or put up their defenses. Sometimes, it’s like fighting a losing battle – they’re going to win no matter what. But doing nothing will only add to the opposing side’s satisfaction. You need to fight, struggle with all your might, and give them a hard time. Even if in the end, you lose, at least you can feel content about making the other side work for the win. Even if you lost, as least you can tell yourself, “Oh well. I tried my best. I didn’t just hand them the win on a silver platter, I gave them somewhat of a hard time.”