In the novel, the relationship between Eliezer and his father before and after Hitler deports them is observed to be strong. However the experiences that they go through together at the Nazi death camp transform that relationship. This essay will explore the relationship between Eliezer and his father and how it changes throughout the novel.
Relationship of respect and obedience
At the beginning of the story, the relationship existing between Eliezer and his father is held together by a bond of mutual understanding and respect. In Sighet, his father is seen as a respected member belonging to the community of the Jews (Jablon 317).
Even though he refuses to take the mentorship role over his son’s training of mysticism, Eliezer still regards him with utmost respect not only because of his position in the Jewish community but because it was expected of him to follow the example of other Orthodox Jewish families (Frunza 99).
Relationship of love and dependence
At Birkenau, Elie and his father are separated from the rest of their family members. He begins to feel the loss and gripped with fear of losing his father, the forthcoming experiences and need for protection, he clings to his father (Spector 40).
At some point in the story his father weeps at the thought of what Elie will go through at the death camp and the expression of emotions by his father assures him of love (Bauer 22). When Eli is taken to Block 17 after separation with his father, he worries about his well being and continues offering support. They rely on each other for strength to working and survival (Misco 10).
Relationship of anger and frustration
While in the concentration camps, the oppressions make keeping good relationship between Elie and his father cumbersome. His father narrowly escapes death after being beaten thoroughly by a 13 year old in the presence of Elie for failing to make his bed properly (Frunza 99). Also, his father receives beatings from a gypsy and Idek the camp overseer (Spector 40).
Unable to help and faced with embarrassment and frustrations, he direct his anger at his father (Jablon 317). Even though he cares for him, he does not understand why his father is always at fault and why he can’t defend himself (Hospital 360). His attitude towards his father begins to change.
Wesley sees his father as a burden
Even though the bond between Elie and his father is strong, at some point in the story he sees his father as a burden. During the first selection, Elie’ gets upset when his father fails to pass the test and this forces him to work extra hard in order for both of them to survive (Misco 10). Additionally, his father is almost thrown out of the cattle cars for fear that he is dead. Elie is forced to slap his father to wake up (Bauer 22).
Additionally, he has to fight and kill a person grabbing food from his father in the train (Hospital 360). From these, Elie sees his father as a burden and despite the adversity growing between them and his struggles to keep the relationship. These events cause a change in attitude towards his father and at one point he leaves his father to die during an air raid (Jablon 317).
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Frunza, Sandu. “Ethics, religion and memory in Elie Wiesel’s night” Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies 9.26 (2010): 94-113. ProQuest Religion, ProQuest. Web. 14 Jun. 2011.
Hospital, Clifford. “Towards maturity in inter-faith dialogue” Cross Currents 57.3 (2007): 356-365. ProQuest Religion, ProQuest. Web. 14 Jun. 2011.
Jablon, Rachel Leah. “Witnessing as Shivah; Memoir as Yizkor: The Formulation of Holocaust Survivor Literature as Gemilut Khasadim ” Journal of Popular Culture 38.2 (2004): 306-324. Research Library, ProQuest. Web. 14 Jun. 2011.
Misco, Thomas.”Nobody told us about what happened”: the current state of holocaust education in Romania.”International Education, 38.1 (2008): 6-21. Research Library, ProQuest. Web. 14 Jun. 2011.
Spector, Karen. “God on the Gallows: Reading the Holocaust through Narratives of Redemption ” Research in the Teaching of English 42.1 (2007): 7-55. Research Library, ProQuest. Web. 14 Jun. 2011.