Elie Wiesel’s Night was a personal narration of the author’s harrowing experiences during the Nazi rule. Although he changed several facts within the story, it doesn’t mean that Night is a fictional biography. Wiesel poured his heart out in this work that even the readers can feel the pain, hopelessness, and guilt of the main character, Eliezer.
One significant theme of the story is Eliezer’s relationship with his father, Shlomo. This relationship became his stronghold and hope. His father was the reason he fought to live. Although Shlomo was a static character in the story, he was a very important character as he was the central notion of life for Eliezer. Family bonds were very important in the story, as it becomes the reason people fought to live. Eliezer’s hold on life was the same as his cousin, Stein, he met in the camp. As Stein said, “the only thing that keeps me alive…is to know that Reizel and the little ones are still alive. Were it not for them, I would give up” (Wiesel, p.45). Stein’s statement became Eliezer and Chlomo’s stronghold. For Eliezer, knowing that he was with his father and that his father was still living, was enough for him to go on. Even if they both knew they wouldn’t see their other family members, they knew they were together and that was enough for them to keep on living.
In the beginning, Eliezer’s bond with his father was a normally strong relationship between a father and a son. But throughout the days in the camp, and with all the horrors happening around him, his faith in God became shaky. He started to question his own beliefs as he saw death, suffering, and extreme emotional pain all around him. That’s when he started to cling to his father as much as he clung to his faith before. His father became the replacement for his faith as he fought the darkness around him. He felt that holding on to his father let him honor his commitment to his family. “I had one thought – not to lose him” (Wiesel, p.27). He felt abandoned by his God and he strived not to do this with his family. As he struggled with his faith, his relationship with his father became even stronger, as this was what he would have wanted God to do for him. “What would he do without me? I was his only support” (Wiesel, p.84). He felt rejected, thus, he strived harder to protect his relationship with his father, making him feel less abandoned, less needed.
But in the end, Eliezer broke as his bond with his father. The camp turned father against son and son against father. He began to resent his father’s weakness, being an old man. “I felt anger at that moment, it was not directed at Kapo but at my father. Why couldn’t he avoid Idek’s wrath?” (Wiesel, p.54). This instance indicated that Eliezer’s relationship with his father became as shaky as his faith. As he struggled for survival, he began to think of his father, a weak, old man, as a deadweight “so that (he) could use all (his) strength to struggle for (his) own survival and only worry about (himself)” (Wiesel, p.101). And by the end of the book, the son’s bond with his father has been completely broken when he chose to ignore his father’s call while getting beat up. This event made him feel guilty and ashamed of himself, more so, because he did not weep instead he felt relieved.
Eliezer’s relationship with his father started out strong during the first days in the camp. As the horrors of the Nazi rule crept into his reality, his faith became shaky, as his relationship with his father deteriorated. Where in the beginning, his father was his strength to live, by the end, he became too immune to the pain that he began to live for himself and not for his father. The changes in his relationship with his father were the result of the traumatic and disturbing experiences he had in the camp and was not entirely because he chose it.
Wiesel, E. “Night.” IN: Penguin Books, 2006.