Comparing Two Books: “Night” and “The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money”

Despite addressing very different issues in life, John Maynard Keynes and Elie Wiesel made significant contributions in literature. History will remember these two gentlemen for putting down their minds on paper and providing exciting insights on some of the most critical events in the world. In their books, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money and Night John Maynard Keynes and Elie Wiesel apply various features of modern writing even though they do so in different levels. They both tend to defy and criticize the work of their predecessors and gives way forward. This essay focuses on the modern features in their books that were used in different ways. The two characteristics selected for this comparison paper are generalization and abstraction.

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Use of Generalization in the Night

In his work, Elie Wiesel uses a generalization of Holocaust to paint a clear picture of the events that took place during the period. He narrates to the reader the exact experience in the Nazi camps during the Second World War (Wiesel 5). However, Elie avoids playing the protagonist by using a different character Eliezer to escape the feelings and trauma that comes with such memories (Wiesel and Wiesel). He generalizes the entire event in his personal experience, and the readers can conclude the atrocities that the Jews went through during the Holocaust (Wiesel and Wiesel). From Elie’s book, one may not just give an account of the activities during the period but, it is also able to gain insight on the inhumane nature of people and the significance of Holocaust to the world history, present and future (Wiesel 5). The description of the fear Eliezer felt when her family was being murdered is a general exposure of the pains the Jews went through in the hands of some European soldiers (Wiesel and Wiesel). Moreover, this feature has been used to show the consequences of the Second World War and the role plaid by the United States in stopping the suffering of the weak sides in the conflict.

Use of Generalization in The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money

The world’s economy was at risk of collapsing in the 1930s after facing a significant depression that was caused by the failure of the governments to intervene in the situation. According to Keynes, the traditional economists thought that the economy is a self-restoring system was not entirely valid, and that is why he challenged it and came up with Keynesian revolution (Keynes). He generalized various aspects of the economy through the development of economic models such as the multiplier concept, propensity to consume and the marginal efficiency of capital, liquidity preference and effective demand (Keynes). He argues that the level of employment is not determined by the price of labor as suggested by the Classical Economists but, by the aggregate demand. It is, therefore, irrational to assume that a competitive market will provide full employment in the long run but this can only be attained by government intervention (Lerner 46). Keynes, therefore, generalizes various aspects of the economy such as employment of both labor and capital, the effect of aggregate demand and the ability of people to buy goods (Ferguson 73). All these efforts were focused towards solving one major social-economic problem of depression.

The use of generalization in this two books defer significantly in that Elie Wiesel uses the feature to give a vivid account of the past event which had an impact on the human social life and changed the way of reasoning for many scholars and leaders. On the contrary, John Maynard Keynes employs the same concept to criticize the past belief by professional concerning the economic stability of a country (Lerner 46). He goes ahead to come up with suggestions on how to fix the present problems based on the previous failures. It is therefore clear that unlike, Elie, Keynes identifies the general problem, analyses it entirely and then provides a specific solution to different aspects of the issue.

Use Abstraction in the Night

Reality is tough to portray especially in the art of literature that deals with historical events. Thus, in most cases, writers tend to make general assumptions in composing their works to make the situation appear real (Wiesel 5). However, sometimes the truth may be bitter to accept, and therefore the author has to hide something to make the article less complicated than when using the exact account. Elie in his book the Night applies this feature by first substituting his identity by a female character Eliezer to reduce the impact of trauma associated with the personal experience of the holocaust (Wiesel 5). Secondly, Elie does not give a full account of what happened to other people in the war against European Jews but chooses to focus on his observation thus restricting the reader to what he saw and thought and not what transpired during that period (Wiesel and Wiesel). The use of abstraction in this book is meant to minimize the influence of the trauma that might be created by the full narration of the event (Wiesel 5).

The Use of Abstraction in The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money

John Maynard Keynes indulges in various assumptions and simplification of concepts to enhance the readers’ understanding. Despite being fully aware that book may be primarily used by economists who are professionals and are familiar with the concepts, he still makes most of his illustrations simple (Ferguson 73). He realizes that generalizing the economy is a very complicated issue and thus to make people understand his argument, he first assumes that the entire market is only made of one buyer and seller. The use of the unit product, labor, capital and the firm brings out the aspect of abstraction narrowing down the concept to a simple model (Keynes). The assumption that the government should intervene to restore stability in the economy is introduced in the models at a later stage to make it easy to follow (Ferguson 73). However, he brings everything down to a more complicated situation that considers every player in the market. Such action may water down the effect of the early selective thoughts but in the long run, provides the real picture of his arguments.

In both books, the abstraction technique has been employed effectively even though at different levels. The Night uses the feature in the entire text to protect the readers’ emotional and psychological challenges. On the contrary, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money only uses abstraction at the initial stages of the concepts and later reintroduces more complicated elements. Keynes uses the feature purposefully to enhance the readers’ understanding and not to protect them from any adverse effect.

In conclusion, it is evident that these two works share much in common regarding the use of modern writing features despite the difference in their level of application. As much as they are addressing varied social problems, they are both based on criticism of the past perceptions and ideas and make way to the present and foundation for the future solutions.


Works Cited

Ferguson, Brian S. “Lectures On John Maynard Keynes’ General Theory Of Employment, Interest, And Money (4): Chapter 4, ‘The Choice Of Units’; Chapter 5, ‘Expectations As Determining Output And Employment.'” SSRN Electronic Journal (2013): N. Peg. Web.

Keynes, John Maynard. The General Theory Of Employment, Interest, And Money. Print.

Lerner, Abba P. “Mr. Keynes’ “General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money.”” International Labour Review 152 (2013): 36-46. Web.

Wiesel, Elie, and Marion Wiesel. Night. Print.

Wiesel, Elie. “Letter from Elie Wiesel.” Prospects 40.1 (2010): 5-6. Web.