Rick Yune, an American actor, producer, martial artist, and screenwriter, once said, “It’s a rare thing when a father and son can share the same experience” (Rick Yune). The relationship of the quote, relates to Elie and his father because it demonstrates that father and son rarely get to encounter the same situation together and when they do, it is something that is not forgotten. During Night, father and son become closer together due to the experience they encountered, while at the concentration camps.
Once at the concentration camps, and separated from the rest of the Wiesel family, Elie and his father create an attachment for one another, one of which they would not of had without experiencing the Holocaust. Throughout Elie Wiesel’s memoir, Night, Elie and his father’s connection goes from being detached, to long-lasting, and then to absent, as a result of the events of the Holocaust. While Elie and his father do not have a particularly strong relationship, Elie asks his father for advice. One day Elie asked his father if he would teach Elie Kabbalah.
Elie’s father then proceeded to tell Elie that he won’t teach him because he believes Elie does not need to know Kabbalah at such a young age. Elies father says to Elie,” ‘There are no Kabbalists in Sighet,’ my father would often tell me. He wanted to drive the idea of studying Kabbalah from my mind. In vain. I succeeded on my own in finding a master for myself in the person of Moishe the Beadle” (Wiesel 4). Elie’s father gives Elie advice on why he does not want Elie to start learning Kabbalah this early in Elie’s life. Even though Elie listened to his father’s advice, Elie deliberately disobeys him and finds himself a teacher instead.
Elie begins to learn Kabbalah with Moishe the Beadle. Elie and his father do not have a very strong connection at this point in their lives. While talking about Elie’s father, Elie states, “Therefore, when something would happen, they would come to my father” (Abramowitz 3). The “they” Elie is referring to, is the people of Sighet. When the people of Sighet needed something, they would go to Elie’s father for advice. As mentioned previously, Elies father and Elie are not close, but Elie is still respectful to his father. Even though Elie defies his father, Elie asks his father for his opinion.
In the Ghettos, the relationship between Elie and his father is detached. Elie was talking to his father about letting Elie learn Kabbalah. After discussing Elie’s future of learning his religion, his father dismisses Elie’s passion and feelings toward Kabbalah. Elie then begins to say that his father does not care about him. Elie narrates, “He [Elie’s father] rarely displayed his feelings, not even within his family, and was more involved with the welfare of others than with that of his own kin” (Wiesel 4). Elie is concluding that his father does not worry about him.
He believes that his father will simply give his opinion then move on to something more important within the community. Literary critic Ellen Fine states, “A group of twenty was listening attentively to tales told by his father” (Fine 63). Fine’s statement indicates that Elie’s father tells lots of stories to the people in the town of Sighet. His father likes to be with the people of the town and talking to them. Once transportation was over, immediately the Wiesel family was separated, and at that moment Elie and his father were all that were left. Elie and his father have just been separated from the women in their family.
Elie’s first reaction is to hold onto his father. Elies remembers that, “In a fraction of a second I could see my mother, my sisters, move to the right. [… ] And I walked on with my father, with the men. [… ] My hand tightened its grip on my father. All I could think of was not to lose him. [… ] It was imperative to stay together” (Wiesel 29-30). Resulting in the end of the separation, all that remained was Elie’s father and Elie. Standing together, frightened, Elie grabs onto his father’s hand. After years of Elie and his father being so distant from each other, at this moment, they created a bond, which brings them closer.
Elie is looking at his father for protection no matter what happens to them. Even with the loss of their family, Elie and his father have become the closest they have ever been. Scholarly reviewer, Ellen Fine, states,”[… ] being stripped bare of all possessions, he is fixated on one thought – to be with his father” (Fine 55). Fine is stating that Elie has only one view, which is to be with his father no matter what happen or has happened to them. After selection took place in Birkenau, the first reaction between Elie and his father, was to see each other. Elie and his father are in different areas of the camp when selection goes off.
Elie runs to Block 36 to see that his father is still alive. After selection and Elie met his father he specifies, “The bell rang, signaling that the selection had ended in the entire camp. With all my strength I began to race toward Block 36; midway, I met my father. He came toward me: ‘So? Did you pass? ‘ ‘Yes. And you? ”Also. ‘ We were able to breath again” (Wiesel 73). After selection, Elie runs to meet his father to find out if he passed, which they both did. Elie was very worried that his father might not make selection, which proves that Elie cannot live without his father.
Ellen Fine articulates, “Father and son struggle to remain human, acting as lifelines for each other” (Fine 54-55). Fine believes that Elie and his father stay alive for each other. They cling onto each other at means of life and death surrounding them. Toward the end of the holocaust, Elie’s father is dying. Elie’s father has become sick once they reach the Buchenwald camp. He gets weaker everyday that he is alive. Elie, along with the rest of his block are instructed to take showers while their blocks have not been finished being cleaned.
While waiting outside, Elie sees his father and explains that, “From a far, I saw my father and ran to meet. He went by me like a shadow, passing me without stopping, without a glance. [… ] He looked at me for a moment and his gaze was distant, [… ] the face of a stranger” (Wiesel 107-108). While Elie’s father is practically lying on his deathbed, Elie’s believes that he sees his father running to him. Yet, it is not his father, but a complete stranger. Elie is then realizing how faceless all of the prisoners have become. By Elie not recognizing that the stranger was not his father, proves that Elie is growing away from his father.
Elie tells Oprah, “When my father, who was sick, called out to me – and I didn’t respond, because I was afraid to be beaten up. I let him die” (“Oprah” 3). Elie assumes his father died because of him. Elie became scared at what could happen to him, more than what happened to his father. More importantly, Elie is finally free once his father has died, but he still remembers his father’s spirit. When Elie goes to see his father, on January twenty-ninth, he finds that his father has died. After Elie’s father’s death, Elie describes that, “I did not weep, and it pained me that I could not weep. … ] And deep inside me, if I could have searched the recesses of my feeble conscience, I might have found something like: Free at last” (Wiesel 112).
After Elie finds out that his father has died, he does not cry for him. Nor does it seem like Elie cares about his father anymore. Now that his father is gone, Elie can now be free. Perhaps Elie felt as to though his father was a burden on Elie. While answering Oprah’s questions, Elie replys, “My father wanted me to protect him, but I couldn’t” (“Oprah” 3). Elie tells Oprah his father was depending on Elie and he let him down.
He had lost sense of emotion due to the events in the concentration camps, that he could not help his father, when his father was in need. The relationship of father and son differs from place to place in Elie Wiesel’s memoir, Night, proving that Elie needs his father during the Holocaust, but then does not need him when his father dies. In the beginning of Night, Elie and his father are just like a normal family. They are distant, but when Elie needs advice, he will still ask his father for his opinion. While at the concentration camps, Elie and his father became the closest they have ever been.
Their relationship continuously advanced positive while encountering the harsh condition in the camps. Toward their liberation, Elie and his father’s relationship fell apart little by little. Elie felt as though he is unable to help his father while he is dying, acting as a burden on Elie. Referring back to the quote, “It’s a rare thing when a father and son can share the same experience”(Rick Yune), Elie and his father never had a close relationship before the Holocaust. Yet, even though their “experience” was not positive, it created a bond between father and son, which would not exist without the event that encountered them.