An Analysis of Relationship Between a Romanian-Born Jewish Writer Elie Wiesel and His Father
The Book Night begins in a small town, Sighet, in Transylvania. The narrator/author of the book is Elie Wiesel. Elie is a child and a fairly devout Orthodox Jew during the time of World War 2. Night occurs in the 1940s when Hitler has begun to invade Hungry and slowly takes over Sighet and deports Elie and his family. Elie and his father have a very strong relationship in the beginning and throughout the book, although this relationship does transform as the two go through more and more. Towards the end of the book Elie begins to feel that his father is a burden and consequently feel’s guilt because of this. In the beginning of the book Elie looks up to his father because his father is a respected member of the Jewish community in Sighet. His father was not in favor of Elie’s decision to study mysticism and therefore refused to be his mentor. As his father said, “Your to young for that. Maimonides said it was only at thirty that one had the right to venture into the perilous world of mysticism. You must first study the basic subjects within your understanding (1-2).” His father was not sentimental, ever as the book states. This tells us that Elie and his father at this point had a relationship based on respect as so many Orthodox Jewish families had between fathers and sons. When the two arrive at the camp there is a change in the way that Elie and his father relate. His father said that he would have rather Elie to go with his mother rather than have to see what they were going to do to Elie. Then his father began to weep. This was probably one of if not the only time that Elie ever saw his father cry. In this part of the book Elie begins to feel his father’s love for him and his father begins to show emotion toward him. Elie and his father become more like a father and son with more based on love and emotion than respect and obedience. As the book goes on Elie is separated from his father and transferred into Block 17 which was ironically enough the same Block that his father was put into. At this point in the story Elie and his father rely on each other a great deal.
They give each other support as to go on living and working. However this relationship grows hard to keep due to the Nazi oppression in the concentration camps. Elie had witnessed a 13-year old child beating his father to death for making his bed improperly, how could a father and son remain close in a place like this with such events occurring around them. This event is a warning to Elie not to lose his sense of compassion towards his father so that they can remain close and continue supporting each other because with each other neither of them will survive. There is a selection after the Jewish New Year. Elie is separated from his father and is worried that his father will not pass the selection. Elie passes the selection but his father does not. This upset Elie very much so because throughout the book up to this point it seems that Elie is getting his will to live and work from his father because he does not want to let his father down. Several days later Elie’s father comes back to the camp. Elie finds out that there had been a second selection among the selected and Elie’s father passed. Elie and his father are still close but Elie is beginning to see his father as a burden of sorts. Elie’s father is condemned to die again after the 42-mile march, however Elie is successful in sneaking his father back to the side of those who are supposed to continue working. This event shows how Elie is dedicated to his father and how despite all of the adversity that they have faced he is fighting to keep a relationship with his father.
Soon after this Elie and his father are herded into train cars and as they ride through German towns locals throw food into the cars to watch the Jews fight and even kill over it. Elie witnessed a man trying to grab a piece of bread from his son and in return his son killed him. After this happens Elie’s attitude towards his father changes greatly, he sees his father as a burden. When they all get off of the train Elie’s father finds his dear friend Meir Katz dead, this was the final blow to Elie’s father. Once Elie and his father are off the train his father just wishes to sit in the snow and rest. The alarms sound for and air raid and Elie leaves his father sitting in the snow, resting. After the air raid Elie searches for his father, but does not really care. Elie feels that perhaps his father is better off dead rather than having to struggle to survive. Elie finds his father in a hospital bed with dysentery where his father slowly dies. Elie’s father’s death gives Elie great guilt and depression because he feels it is his fault for letting his father be killed. He also felt immense guilt when he found himself feeling relieved when his father was taken to the crematory, instead of crying and feeling sad. The course of Elie and his father’s relationship to a degree shows how effective the Nazi’s were in doing what they wanted to do. Not only did they kill millions of Jews but also they turned son against father and father against son.
January 28, 2023