Your father is someone you look up to, model after, he is someone you want to be like. But, entering a concentration camp could have a tragic impact on that relationship between a father and son. In Night, Eliezer and his father go through many ups and downs that reflect on how strong their relationship really is. Elie Wiesel uses an effective father and son relationship to illustrate the effects of what concentration camps have on human beings. Eliezer and his father own a quite distant relationship, a strong growing relationship, and a picture perfect relationship.
To begin, Eliezer and his father’s relationship is seen to be quite secluded previous and within the early days of entering the concentration camps. Within the early days of entering their first concentration camp, Eliezer’s father is struck by a guard for asking for a washroom. Eliezer then states: “I did not move. What had happened to me? My father had just been struck, before my very eyes, and I had not flickered an eyelid. I had looked on and said nothing” (Wiesel 39). Eliezer’s father is struck by a guard and is seen to be quite hurt. While this is happening, Eliezer is there watching everything unfold right in front of his eye.
Eliezer does not get up and try and defend his old man, he just lets this madness unfold. This scene shows that Eliezer and his father are not very close. They do not have a very strong relationship and it results in his father getting hurt. Many sons would stick up for their father if they see that they are getting hurt but Eliezer does not take that upon himself during this situation. Identically, the same sort of action is seen when Eliezer’s father is beaten cruelly with an iron bar. Eliezer explains: “Thad watched the whole scene without moving. I kept quiet.
In fact I was thinking of how to get farther away so that I would not be hit myself… That is what concentration camp life had made of me”, (Wiesel 54). Eliezer explains that he now is really only worrying about himself inside of the concentration camp. Eliezer does not help his father as he is getting beaten by an iron bar. Eliezer ignores the fact that his father is in pain because he is now worrying about himself getting hurt. The concentration camp is adding to the already poor father and son relationship that the two already own and is right now making it worse.
Also, in “Critical Essay on Night” it states that during one of the camps, Eliezer makes friends with two brothers who are about his age and perceives that, “Their parents, like mine, lacked the courage to wind up their affairs and emigrate [to Palestine) while there was still time” (Sanderson 1). These are Eliezer’s first harsh words of criticism against his father and mother, a sign that he is beginning to see that they are not perfect. Eliezer thinks his parents are marvelous until he sees how his friend’s parents are. He realizes that they are just as bad as his friend’s parents and he does not respect that.
He does not want his parents to be like his friend’s. This displays Eliezer’s relationship with his parents. It shows that it is not a very close and loving relationship considering he realizes how bad of parents they really are. In such a fashion, Eliezer begins to notice that his relationship with his parents, more noticeably his father, is pretty poor. Eliezer starts to look after more for himself within the camp walls and not his father. Also, he notices his parents are not as great as he thinks they are after seeing his friend’s parents.
At certain points in the novel, Eliezer’s relationship with his parents, more focused on his father, is quite imperfect to say the least. Throughout their long days within the camps, Eliezer and his father’s relationship is seen to also be strong and healthy just like how a father and son relationship should be. The relationship is seen to resemble a true father and son relationship when Eliezer becomes scared and nervous for his future. Once their cattle car arrives to the first concentration camp that they visit, Elie thinks to himself, “My hand tightened its grip on my father. All I could think of was not to lose him.
Not to remain alone”, (Wiesel 30). Eliezer is relying on his father. He wants his father to protect him throughout his time at the concentration camps. The action that is seen here represents Eliezer’s firm dependance on his father. He wants to stick by his father throughout their time in the concentration camps. Eliezer does not want to get seperated and be on his own because he would feel weak and alone constantly. He wants his dad to protect him, just like any boy would want. The relationship between the two is also seen as very strong when one night the two are trying to fall asleep and Eliezer’s father states, “Don’t worry, son.
Go to sleep. I’ll watch over you. ” and then Eliezer says, “You first, Father. Sleep. ” (Wiesel 89). The two want to go to bed but both are feeling a little nervous and unsettled. Eliezer’s father usually is the one who watched over his son while sleeping but tonight, Eliezer wants to look over his father. This action shows the mutual respect and care that the two have for eachother. Eliezer is growing up and he wants to be more like his father. So, he does a repetitive action that his father usually does for him this one night by watching over him. This also illustrates that their relationship is also very substantial at times.
The relationship between the two is also seen to be stronger than ever when Eliezer saves his father’s life. In the critical essay, The Rage for Order: Autobiographical Accounts of the Self in the Nightmare of History it states, “Eliezer, however, saves his father from being thrown out as dead from the cattle wagon” (Bosmajian 1). At this point in the novel, Eliezer’s father is going to be thrown out of the cattle wagon which could lead to death but Eliezer stops it from happening. He potentially save his father’s life doing so. Eliezer’s action here is very courageous.
He potentially puts his life on the line to save his father’s because who knows what consequence he could get from pulling this “stunt”. So much respect and love is being shown here from Eliezer’s action. This proves that the relationship between Eliezer and his father is firm and solid. All in all, Eliezer’s relationship is also perceived as quite strong. Him and his father show many acts that make readers believe that the two are in fact very close and do own a healthy father and son relationship. Eliezer puts his life on the line for his father multiple times as it shows very strong courage and respect towards his father.
The relationship between the two is illustrated to be very poor at times, but it also to be seen as quite solid and strong. Lastly, closer to the end of the novel, the relationship between Eliezer and his father is almost seen to be picture perfect. At many times, the relationship is illustrated as so right and heartwarming. At the end of the novel, Eliezer’s father is seconds away from dying. Eliezer begins to narrate the death, “My father groaned once more, I heard: “Eliezer… ” (Wiesel 111). This quote is extremely important. At this time Eliezer finally feels the perfect love that he has always wanted from his father.
Eliezer watching his father dying is very difficult and painful to watch but, him hearing his father say “Eliezer” as his final words must have been very heartwarming. The father and son relationship closes out here in a tragic way but Eliezer will now feel that love from his father forever and ever. The relationship has come a long way and for it to end like this is terrible but also just as beautiful. Another moment of the beautiful relationship is also seen prior to the passing of Eliezer’s father. While watching his father die, Eliezer remarks, “I did not weep, and it pained me that I could not weep.
But I had no more tears. And, in the depths of my being, in the recesses of my weakened conscience, (Wiesel 112). This quote illustrates the tough conditions that come upon people within the concentration camps. Eliezer is saying here that he cannot cry due to the fact that he has cried to many times within the camps and has run out of tears. Eliezer is extremely bereaved that his father is dying in front of him so he wants to cry. Eliezer is trying forcefully to find those tears to show his father that he cares so much about him but he just can not simply find those tears.
Eliezer dearly loves his father and wants to cry but he just can not. Eliezer fighting and searching for those tears represents the type of love that Eliezer has for his father, the respect and care he has. Also, the relationship is seen to be right when Eliezer promises not to leave his father and leave him at any point. In “Overview of Night”, Dougherty mentions, “Eliezer makes only one thing necessary to him: absolute fidelity to his father. God has broken His covenant, His promises to His people; Eliezer, in contrast, determines… not to violate his covenant with his father” (Dougherty 1).
This quote illustrates that Eliezer is going to stay fully faithful to his father, he will believe in him, trust him, and follow him. Eliezer wants to respect and be with his father throughout the terrible times in the concentration camps. He his father to be the one person that he will be with at all times. That is the one thing he wants to be necessary for the time being. This shows the amount of faith and hope that Eliezer has for his father. This adds to the relationship between the two. Now Eliezer realizes that he can trust his father and can solely believe in him.
Their relationship is on a high note here as the two are closer than ever. As a result, Eliezer and his father’s relationship is seen to be picture perfect at this point of the novel. Eliezer has found the love for his father that he has never had before. He realizes these things as his father is dying, prior to him dying, and when he chooses to believe in his father and wants to stick with him during their times inside the concentration camps. Their relationship seems to be wonderful here as it is truly heartwarming and beautiful. Their love seems to be unbreakable as it has taken them a long time to find this peak of love and connection.
Wiesel uses an effective father and son relationship to illustrate the effects of what concentration camps have on human beings. Eliezer and his father’s relationship starts from being quite poor and a little sad to a growing and very heartwarming relationship, and then finishing with an almost picture perfect relationship. Concentration camps effect many people differently; tears people apart, brings them together etc. The relationship seen in this novel only gives a glimpse of what it is really like in the camps. No one ever wishes to go back to those times.