This paper is devoted to a theme of relations between fathers and children and their transformation under extreme circumstances. It is based on the “Night” novel by Eliezer Wiesel, a Romanian-born American writer, political activist, professor, and Nobel Laureate. The book tells about the experiences in concentration camps and the relationship between Elie and his father. The essay aims to analyze the transformation of this relationship.
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Change is inevitable. and the relationship between Eliezer and his father in Night drastically transforms. The young boy and his father go through much suffering in a concentration camp. Their experience at the concentration camp changes the relationship between son and father, and the despicable treatment by the Nazis helps Eliezer and his father develop a strong connection.
As the beginning of “Night”, Elie and his father’s relationship is not very good. It does not reflect a healthy connection between a father and a son. Eliezer even thinks that his father cares for other people more than his family. “He was more concerned with others than with his own family” (Wiesel 2).
Moreover, his father does not support him in his religious quest. Thus Eliezer finds Moshe, a teacher, to teach him the Cabbala something that does not go well with his father, who condemns him for his preoccupation with the Cabbala. Still, Eliezer’s relationship with his father change as their circumstances change.
Once the two are taken to a concentration camp along with many others, their relationship begins to become close. The reason for the change is the loss of the rest of their family members, and they are only left with each other. The horrendous days and the cruel treatment they receive at camp Auschwitz bring them closer as they learn to depend on one another for their mere survival.
The relationship of Elie Wiesel and his father improves drastically. They develop a close connection and support one another as they go through hard times in the camp. For example, while at the camp after his father is deemed too weak to work and taken to the side of those to go the crematorium. Eliezer runs to him, and in the confusion that ensues, both slip back to the safe side. Furthermore, his father learns to value his son and show him affection as he tells his son not to worry and go to sleep. This is seen in the following quote:“Don’t be afraid, son. Sleep—…I’ll look after you myself” (Weisel 85).
Eliezer has learned to depend on his father and will do anything to keep him by his side. He even prays to God despite his loss of faith in a God who seems quiet amid their suffering. The prisoners are going through in the camp, for the strength never to leave his father as he had sons do to their fathers.
He asks God to enable him to stay with his father because he had seen Rabbi abandon his father, “My God, Lord of the Universe, give me the strength never to do what Rabbi Eliahou’s son has done” (E.Wiesel 87). Father and son struggle to survive for the sake of one another as no one can imagine how life would change for the other if they died.
Eliezer protects and helps his father; he does not sacrifice him for his survival, as so many sons had done to their sons for their survival. However, as days pass by, he starts to feel some resentment toward his father, especially when he is unable to protect himself from the cruelty of the guards instead of pitying him.
Moreover, towards the end of the book on their way to Buchenwald, his father becomes very weak and cannot move, maybe because of fatigue or loss of hope. He leaves his father and sleeps deeply, and when he wakes up, he cannot find him and searches for him half-heartedly because a thought tells him maybe he can increase his chance of survival if he were alone.
Fortunately, he finds him, “Father! I’ve been looking for you for so long… Where were you? Did you sleep? How do you feel?” (Wiesel 101). He still cares about his father, and guilt eats him for his behavior, especially when he considers eating the food instead of sharing it with his father. Eliezer is slowly becoming estranged from his father due to the harsh situation, but he stands by his father, who suffers from dysentery.
Finally, his father passes on, and he feels a sign of relief and does not cry. However, the experience at the camp and their deep concern for one another that develops over time helps them to survive and not fall into the temptation of self-preservation that makes a son turn against his father and kill him. In summary, Elie Wiesel’s relationship with his father grows strong, albeit the former’s thoughts that he would be better off without his father as the two experience a deep bond that changes both of their lives as they struggle to survive.
Wiesel, Elie. Night. MacGibbon& Kee: New York, 1982.