The relationship between Eliezer and his father demonstrates parent-child and peer-like relationships. Initially the father plays the role of a father, who provides for his family, but afterwards, he develops a peer-like relationship in the camp with his son. The roles reverse later when the father becomes frail and Eliezer takes up the fatherly role. Hence, it is within this background that the essay examines the relationship between Eliezer and his father.
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During the early stages of Eliezer, his father provides for his family and helps the community in several activities. Since the father of Eliezer is a community leader, he devotes much of his time to the challenges that people face in the community. At some point, Eliezer feels that his father is more concerned with the affairs of the community more than he does to him and others in the family (Wiesel 8). The perception creates loose ties in the relationship between Eliezer and his father.
Conversely, the ties become strong when they take the family of Eliezer to a concentration camp and he chooses to stay with his father. During the early stages in the camp, the father is protective of his son and Eliezer demonstrates all the elements of a dependent son, who expects a lot from the father. Hence, the father-child relationship influences the development of other relationships through the course of the novel and changes that transpire.
The relationship between Eliezer and his father change as they continue to stay in the camp. Eliezer and his father develop a relationship of close friends, who share roles, sleep together, and chat together. According to Bloom, during their stay in the camp, they depend on one another for assistance and advice (26). Even though we were inmates, Eliezer states that, “we were capable of singing His praises” despite being in miserable conditions with his father (Weasel 69).
When they decide to take turns in a night vigil, the peer-like relationship of the two becomes apparent. Remarkably, the ties between the father and the son become stronger in a corresponding nature with their love towards one another. At this stage, Eliezer feels that he and his father are equal friends, who share sentiments, ideas, and opinions. As a result, their love, friendship, and understanding improves to an extent that they sometimes understand each other even without uttering a word.
Reversing of the Relationship
At later stages when they are in the camp, the roles of Eliezer and his father reverse. The father of Eliezer grows old, frail, and dependent. Fisher and Silber assert that Eliezer takes up the role of a father and starts providing, caring, and looking after his father (212). In some instances, as Eliezer and his father would separate and sleep in different parts of the camp and in the morning, Eliezer would look for his father just as a father would look for his child. When inmates went to sleep, Eliezer bids his father farewell as he says that, “I went up to him, took his hand and kissed it” (Weasel 68).
Essentially, the reversal of roles strengthens the tie and friendship between Eliezer and his father. During this stage in the camp, the father of Eliezer starts displaying childlike characteristics such as dependency and relied on Eliezer for a number of things. Eliezer displays much love and care until Blockalteste advices him to “stop giving your ration of bread and soup to your old father” (Weasel 110). Eliezer bestows everything to his father including his ration of bread and soup for he wants him to recover from sickness and gain strength.
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The relationship between Eliezer and his father took different directions and angles in various stages of their lives out and inside the concentration camps. Outside the camp, the father of Eliezer helps his family and the community. However, in the camp, the father and the son develop a peer-like and father-son forms of relationship. Fundamentally, the ties that bind Eliezer and his father strengthen as they continue to stay in the camp.
Bloom, Harold. Elie Wiesel’s Night. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2011. Print.
Fisher, Jerilyn., & Ellen Silber. Women in Literature: Reading through the Lens of Gender. Portsmouth: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003. Print.
Wiesel, Elie. Night. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2006.Print.