In his book ‘Night’, author Eli Wiesel depicts several dynamics that affect the relationship between Elie and his father. The two characters are confined in a concentration camp during the Second World War after leaving their home in Siget. Like the other Jews in concentration camps, Eliezer (Elie) and his father experience harsh and inhuman conditions common in these camps. However, the relationship between the father and son undergoes significant changes caused by these experiences. Arguably, Wiesel uses the changing relationship between the two characters with an aim of describing how the war affected families because individual roles were reversed.
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When Eliezer and his father entered the concentration camp after the onset of the war and their relocation from Siget, their relationship was normal. Similar to the normal father-son relationship, Eliezer obtains protection and advice from his father. In fact, Eliezer seems to be dependent on his father. On his part, Eliezer loves his father. For instance, in his narrative, Eliezer says that he was ready to go with his father, regardless of his fate. He says “As the soldier’s baton pointed to the left, I took one step forward… to see where my father was being taken… I was ready to run after him…” (Wiesel and Wiesel 32). The son is determined to stay close to his father. He says “…All I hated was to lose him or remain alone” (Wiesel and Wiesel 30). In addition, he begs the brutal soldiers to let him remain close to his father during the selection for a ‘komodo’ (Wiesel 48).
As time goes, the two characters develop a peer-to-peer relationship. They help each other during harsh moments. In fact, the author says that their relationship changed to co-dependency because the father sometimes relied on his son. For instance, they walk in the concentration camp holding hands, despite the fear of being separated. In addition, they requested to have the same assignments in order to work and live close to each other. They also share food, washing items, and sleep in the same building. Their religious background remains quite strong. For instance, they sing the Hasidic together (Wiesel and Wiesel 277).
On realizing his father’s problems, Eli intervenes with an aim of saving him. For instance, when Franek beats Eli’s father for his inability to march, the son decides to teach him how to march. In fact, it appears that the father is increasingly depending on his son more than Eli depends on him. For example, Eli is now acting as his father’s teacher in marching lessons. During their forced run to Gleiwitz, the two characters run side by side. As they rest in an old brick factory, Elie tells promises to watch over his father. He also says “…We must look after each other…” (Wiesel and Wiesel 89).
Therefore, it is evident that the relationship between Elie and his father experience significant changes throughout their stay in the camp. Towards the end of the narrative, Eli seems to take care of his father. This is in contrast to their relationship when they first entered the camp. For instance, Eli notes that his father has become weak, frightened, and childlike after their run to Glenwitz. Elie goes looking for his father after their arrival at Buchenwald and requests to know how he is feeling. In fact, it is evident that the relationship has completely reversed because Eli is acting as the father’s caretaker.
In conclusion, the relationship between Elie and his father changes significantly due to the effects of the camp. First, Elie depends on his father for advice and protection. However, the harsh condition makes them depend on each other (Bloom 32). Finally, Eli takes the role of the father as his father becomes vulnerable, weak and dependent.
Bloom, Harold. Elie Wiesel’s Night. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2008. Print.
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Wiesel, Elie and Marion Wiesel. Night. New York: Penguin Books, 2006. Print.