The Relationship between Eliezer and His Father in the Novel ‘Night’ by Elie Wiesel
Wiesel in his novel Night narrates his story in captivity when his family was forced to live in Nazi German concentration camps. He calls the book Night referring to that first night they spent in the camp and the things he witnessed as a child that night, which turned out to be the order of the day. According to Wiesel, this one night changed his entire life and strayed him from the normal beliefs he had upheld in his life before. After witnessing such horrific events like children being killed and mature men tortured to death, Wiesel wonders how long they have been in the camp, a week or a month yet it was just a night. Two main themes that come out of the story are the changes in Eliezer’s relationship with God and his father.
The relationship between Eliezer and his father takes gradual changes throughout the story as Eliezer loses himself to the cruelty of life in the concentration camp. Before they move to the camp, Eliezer and his father do not seem close emotionally or otherwise. He refers to his father as being concerned with the community more than his own family, thus, making him ‘a rather unsentimental man’. Elie’s father was a community leader, therefore, he had to fulfill his duties to the community something that left him with less time to spend with his son. Additionally, when Elie shares his desire for deeper religious studies with his father, the old man dismisses him saying that he was too young. This also shows us that the two did not have a close son to father relation. However, Elie still respects his father just like the rest of the community members despite their distance.
At the camp, when women and men are separated, Elie chooses to go with his father although he was a young child and could be allowed to go with his mother and sisters. The relationship between these two has grown stronger at this point and Elie cares for his father more than anything. He has no intention of leaving his father or being left alone as shown by the time they are asked of their professions to determine what prison they would stay. As Elie moves to the left, he only makes two steps then stops to see which side his father goes. He does not care which side is good, all that matters to him is having his father by his side. After a while, their relationship begins to drift with Elie caring about his own survival. His father is beaten up at his watch and he does nothing for the fear of being tortured too. The love for his father dies slowly and in another incidence when his father is beaten Elie feels no pity, in fact, he becomes angry with his father for failing to learn how to survive without attracting the anger of the overseers. Although Elie seems to have lost his love for his old man, his father is still important to him. Unlike other kids, Elie nurses his father when he is sick and does not think of abandoning him. The thought of losing his father to death is unbearable to Eliezer and once his father is dead at the camp, Elie loses his will to live. This is clear in the last chapter where Elie does not say much about his experience since nothing mattered anymore after the death of his father.