Wiesel’s book Night can be regarded as a story of dehumanization and lost hopes. However, it is also a story of affection and desire to remain a human in inhumane conditions. There are different themes in the book, but the father-son relationship is one of the central and most appealing. The teenager is trying to survive and keep closer to his father, though the protagonist sometimes feels ashamed for his inability to defend his father (Scott 66). It is possible to state that the author tells a story of the evolution of his relationships with his father which also reflects the development of his personality.
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Life Before the Camp
The life of the protagonist can be divided into three major stages, i.e. the life before the camp, the camp life, and the death of Eliezer’s father. The author describes his father as “a cultured man” who was preoccupied with the affairs of the community (Wiesel 18). It is possible to infer that the narrator is proud of his father as he notes that people of the community often asked for advice and his father always helped people (Wiesel 18). It is difficult to say whether the relationship between the father and the son were close at that period. However, it is possible to state that the protagonist respected his father.
The Camp Life
Nonetheless, the camp and their mutual ordeals changed their relationship. The narrator describes the moment when he lost his mother in simple terms, “that was the moment when I left my mother” (Wiesel 38). The teenage boy who had just lost his closest relative did not want to lose his father as well and he understood that they (he and his father) “were alone” (Wiesel 38). This was the first major event that made the two closer (Franklin 70). Admittedly, Eliezer and his father had to endure a horrible ordeal. They did not have enough food or sleep. They had to turn into bodies fighting for slightly better conditions. Notably, Eliezer was a teenager and he was still stronger and could adapt more easily. However, his father grew weaker each day. First, Eliezer’s father supported him and helped him to survive, but soon Eliezer had to become his father’s caregiver. During the last weeks of his father’s life, Eliezer forced him to go on. Those were the times when the narrator was ashamed of himself as he wished to be “relieved of this responsibility” (Wiesel 91). However, each time he was thinking like that, the narrator’s pity and love for his father grew stronger.
Death of Eliezer’s Father
His father’s death was a kind of culmination of Eliezer’s fear and dehumanization as when his father was calling for his help, the teenager did not move not to be beaten violently. Even though the narrator admits that he did not weep and he thought “free at last” at the back of his mind, his father’s death was really painful for him (Wiesel 96). It is possible to state that his father death is a milestone in Eliezer’s life as the narrator notes that “nothing mattered… anymore” (Wiesel 97). He was dehumanized and he was only a shadow of a human. The final stage of the development of relationships between the father and the sun is the son’s remorse, shame, and devotion.
On balance, it is possible to note that the relationship between the father and the son evolves throughout the book. Eliezer’s attitude changes many times. First, it is respect. Then, it is a strong devotion. After that, it is anger and, finally, it is remorse and devotion.
Franklin, Ruth. A Thousand Darknesses: Lies and Truth in Holocaust Fiction. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print.
Scott, Deborah Schizer. “Of Stomachs and Gold Teeth: The Limits of Dehumanization in Elie Wiesel’s Night.” Substance, Judgment, and Evaluation: Seeking the Worth of Liberal Arts, Core Text Education. Ed. Patrick T. Flynn, Jean-Marie Kauth, John Kevin Doyle, and Scott J. Lee. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 2010. 61-69. Print.
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Wiesel, Elie. Night. New York, NY: Hill and Wang, 2006. Print.