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Father-Son Relationship in Elie Wiesel’s Night

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Essay title: Father-Son Relationship in Elie Wiesel’s Night

During the years prior to Elie's Wiesel's experience in the Holocaust, Elie and his father shared a distant relationship that lacked a tremendous amount of support and communications but, eventually, their bond strengthens as they rely on each other for survival and comfort.

Elie Wiesel's description of the relationship he shared with his father, Shlomo, prior to the Holocaust, shows that it is distant and lacks the chemistry a father and son usually possess. Elie retells that his father did not show signs of encouragement when he wanted to study the Kabbalah: "You are too young for that. Maimonides tells us that one must be thirty before venturing into the world of mysticism, a world fraught with peril. First you must study the basic subjects, those you are able to comprehend" (4). It is evident that Shlomo does not have faith in Elie, which is quite the contrary from typical fathers. Although Elie is not old enough to fully comprehend the Kabbalah, Shlomo, as a father, should support his son and help him achieve his goal. Because Elie does not receive the aid he needs from his father, he resorts to finding someone else, Moishe the Beadle, to guide him. This affects Elie tremendously because it is disappointing to have to search for someone else, other than his father, for guidance in any sensitive subject, such as religion. Elie also tells the readers that his father was very reserved from the rest of the family: "My father was a cultured man, rather unsentimental. He 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" (4). The fact that Shlomo was more involved with affairs outside of the family shows that it is certain that Elie never received the affection he needed as a child. Both father and son were like strangers for they knew nothing about each other.

As the days become harsher in the concentration camp for both father and son, however, Elie grows more dependent on his father, as his father is on him; they are each other's sole reason for survival. It is true that Elie's feelings toward his father do oscillate. When Elie and his father first entered the camps, his father was struck and Elie did nothing to help his father: "What had happened to me? My father had just been struck, in front of me, and I had not even blinked. Only yesterday, I would have dug my nails in this criminal's flesh" (39). This shows that, although Elie did not share a close relationship with his father, he still feels that he should stand up for his fahter for the fact that they are father and son. Elie is very violent in that he would have "dug his nails in the criminals' flesh." Evidently, Elie is furious towards the offender. Unfortunately, Elie does not do anything when his father is struck because he does not want to draw attention to himself. Nevertheless, the bond between Elie and his father does strengthen: "And what if he were dead, as well? He was not moving. Suddenly the evidence overwhelmed me: there is no longer

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