Night by Elie Wiesel – The Unbreakable Bond of Father and Son

The relationship between a father and a son is a long and complicated one. Many trials can break the bond amongst predecessor and descendent, however, only a genuine, unsettling evil can bring the two together more closely than ever before. In Eliezer Wiesel’s book Night, Elie has a complex, yet loving relationship with his father. “It had been his last wish to have me next to him in his agony yet I did not give him that wish” (Wiesel, “Preface” xi). By speaking this truth, Elie has come to terms with what transpired in the concentration camp and what ensued between him and his father. Chlomo and Elie’s relationship intensifies and completely reverses, from a father and child, to equals, and finally Elie taking full care of his father.

In Eliezer Wiesel’s night, Elie’s relationship with his father grows and strengthens. The book begins with a relationship much like an ordinary father son relationship with Elie, not desiring to leave his father, Chlomo, once they reach Auschwitz. Once their cattle car arrives there, 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 Night 30). This quote perfectly depicts Elie’s internal and private thoughts concerning his goal once he accesses the concentration camp, Auschwitz. Elie wishes not to be isolated from his father, and although he does not know it, it is his father that will desire the identical thing later in the book. “The main hope that motivated Wiesel in the first days he spent in the camp was his desire to remain close to his father ” (Cunningham 26). Lawrence Cunningham portrays that Elie’s only request once inside Auschwitz is to be with his father. “I want to stay with my father” (Wiesel Night 48). Elie is reminiscing when a tent aide was questioning him on which Kommando Elie would fancy existing in. This thought reinforces the point of Elie and his father’s relationship is dependency near the beginning of the book. Ellen Fine supports that Elie is entirely dependent on his father by disclosing that “During the “leveling” process, as he is being stripped bare of all possessions, he is fixated on one thought- to be with his father” (Fine 55). Ellen is simply restating that it is Elie who makes the relationship weaker, not his father, throughout the start of the book. During the beginning of the story, Elie is completely dependent on his father for protection and support. Chlomo and Elie regard each other as family, but not as necessary to survival. This relationship turns from this, to a much powerful bond.

Once Chlomo and Elie establish themselves in the camp, their relationship strengthens even further. This demonstration is when Elie and Chlomo become interdependent in prison. Elie tries to help his father, “I decided to give my father lessons in marching in step, in keeping time. We began practicing in front of our block. I would command: ‘Left, right!” and my father would try” (Wiesel Night 55). This shows that Elie is gradually developing into a more independent person with each passing day in the concentration camp. Elie refuses to listen to Franek, the foreman, and thus Franek starts to beat Chlomo unmercifully since he is unable to march. By executing this, Elie reveals that he cares for his father a too great deal for him to be thrashed repeatedly. Anne Jordan signifies this feat as a turning point in the father-son relationship. “Eliezer saves his father’s life, sometimes risking his own” (Napierkowski 244). Still, the relationship becomes entangles itself even more after Elie’s foot becomes is infectious. Elie sojourns in the hospital, and his father converts to a nurse. This exploit indicates that Elie and Chlomo have become inseparable and cannot function without each other as evidence by Fine, “The primary relationship between father and son appears to be more an interdependency based upon mutual support in the midst of surrounding evil” (Fine 55). Fine also reaffirms her point later in the article by stating “Father and son struggle to remain human, acting as lifelines for each other” (Fine 55). Once both Chlomo and Elie have recognized themselves as prisoners, their relationship toughens and both parties embrace interdependency in order to survive.

Toward the end of the book, Elie’s relationship with his late father, Chlomo fortifies even further. Fine depicts Elie as the father, and Chlomo as the child, “By assuming responsibility for the sick old man, the son becomes a kind of father figure” (Fine 56). This is best described in the book during the run to Gleiwitz during the harsh winter. Elie refuses to submit to the cruel, punishing conditions, and then thinks to himself angrily, “I had no right to let myself die. What would he do without me? I was his sole support” (Wiesel Night 87). Meanwhile, his father abandons hope and crumbles to the suffering. When Chlomo refuses to continue on, Elie furiously reflects on the thought of dying just before reaching the camp, “I could have screamed in anger. To have lived and endured so much; was I going to let my father die now. Now that we would be able to take a good hot shower and lie down?” (Wiesel Night 105) Elie is then put into an even superior fury at his father. “Eliezer is filled with rage at his father’s passivity, and realizes he must now take charge” (Fine 56).Nonetheless, Elie drags his feeble father on to Gleiwitz. This action taken by Elie shows that the relationship between him and Chlomo has completely come full circle, and is for more substantial than what existed in the prison. After they arrive in Gleiwitz, Chlomo calls out to Elie, yet Elie does not answer. A SS officer gaits along and smashes his father’s head in severely. Chlomo later perishes in correlation to this action and Elie is thrown into a rage unlike any other once he is awaken, realizing what has become apparent. “I considered jumping him, strangling him. But I had neither the courage nor thestrength. To strangle the doctor and the others! To set the whole world on fire! My father’s murderers! But even the cry stuck in my throat” (Wiesel Night 109).

Several years after the incident, Elie states that once his father croaks, Elie, himself, also departs this life, “I was sixteen years old when my father died. My father was dead and the pain was gone. I no longer felt anything. Someone had died inside me and that someone was me” (Abramowitz 3). Elie is essentially a walking corpse evidenced by when he gazes across the mirror and calmly states, “One day I was able to get up, after gathering all my strength. I wanted to see myself in the mirror hanging on the opposite wall. I had not seen myself since the ghetto. From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me. The look in his eyes, as they stared into mine, has never left me.” (Wiesel Night 115).

This represents that Elie has himself died along with his father. We hear little from Elie after his father has died. This just simply means that Elie and his father’s relationship has become so strong and united that Elie did have a purpose on this earth after his father’s death. This quote represents the true meaning behind Elie’s relationship with his father, togetherness. There is little time spent where Elie and his father are not together, and there was nothing left for him to remember and write about.

Elie’s relationship with his father, Chlomo, strengthens and reverses throughout the story from a father-son, toward counterparts, then dependency in order to survive. During the course of the book Elie and Chlomo are constantly battling darkness and requiring each other to survive. Elie and Chlomo relationship twins together so much, they take on the personalities of each other during the book. In the beginning of the book, Chlomo happens to be a storyteller “My father was sharing some anecdotes and holding forth on his opinion of the situation. He was a good storyteller” (Wiesel, Night 12). Elie Wiesel then shares his stories to the whole world, essentially becoming a narrator of his own life. “The son himself must become a storyteller, for the story is a mode of transcendence and the power of the word a protest against the nihilism of the Holocaust” (Fine 63). By inheriting a trait of which his father possessed, and irreversibly allocating his story to the world, Elie has shown that the young child, who whimpered and needed his father, has protected his father’s legacy, hence conserving his own.

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