As seen in Night, how does the relationship between Elie and his father change during their time in Auschwitz?

As seen in Night, the relationship between Elie and his father changes during their time in Auschwitz from one of closeness to estrangement. As Elie's father Shlomo grows weaker, Elie comes to feel that he's becoming a burden to him. When Sholom finally dies, Elie feels the burden finally lift.

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The relationship between Elie and his father changes during their time in Auschwitz, as the child becomes caregiver to the parent. This dynamic is one that occurs in many instances in the outside world, but it usually happens more gradually over time and generally later in the lives of the...

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The relationship between Elie and his father changes during their time in Auschwitz, as the child becomes caregiver to the parent. This dynamic is one that occurs in many instances in the outside world, but it usually happens more gradually over time and generally later in the lives of the two individuals as the parent nears old age. In the case of Elie and his father, both are relatively young, but the horrible conditions they endure in the camps and fear they feel every minute of every day ages them (more so the father) prematurely. Elie’s father becomes weak and is an old man by the time he dies towards the end of the book. In fact, Elie's father was only 50 years old at the time of his death.

Elie takes care of him throughout most of their time in the camps, just as the father cares for him. They become much closer than they had been before the camp. Elie worries about his father, and he gives his father his soup when his father has not eaten. This is a major sacrifice for Elie to make because the portions are very small to begin with and there is almost no substance to the soup; it is mostly water and hardly filling. Elie’s sacrifice of his soup for his father is an act that is more like one a parent performs for a child.

While it is true that Elie feels some sense that his father is a burden as his father’s health fails, this is something that Elie feels enormous guilt about. Moreover, he does not abandon his father the way another son in the camp abandons his by walking so far ahead that the father cannot keep up with his pace.

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The traditional father/son dynamic undergoes something of a reversal during Night. Long before Shlomo passes away, it's Elie who acts as the father and Shlomo who becomes the son. Even then, the new relationship is somewhat complicated. Due to the atrocious conditions inside Auschwitz, Elie finds it nigh impossible to discharge his duties as a surrogate father. He is so preoccupied with his own desperate fight for survival that he has no energy left to render assistance to his increasingly weak and fragile father.

As Shlomo's health starts to go downhill, Elie comes to feel that his father is becoming a burden, a burden he can no longer carry. Barely able to take care of himself, he finds it almost impossible to take care of someone else, even if it is his closest surviving relative.

Even when Shlomo is beaten to within an inch of life on not one, but two occasions, Elie does nothing to intervene. In the second such case, when Shlomo is viciously attacked by an SS guard, Elie is too preoccupied with getting something to eat to do anything about it.

When Shlomo eventually passes away, Elie cannot cry. His experiences are such that he has nothing left inside. And besides, he's honest enough to admit to himself that his father's death releases him from a mighty burden.

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Night gives us a firsthand account of the horrors that the Jews faced during WW 2. Elie Weisel's experiences in the concentration camp take us into a world where death and sacrifice were made daily. Elie and his father are kept together when they first arrive at Auschwitz. They are thought to be strong, healthy men who can do hard manual labor. Elie wants to stay close to his father, at first, to make sure he stays alive. However, as the story progresses, we see that Elie grows to resent his father. When his father becomes ill, Elie feels disgust with his father. When his father is beaten, Elie is mad at his father, not the officer, for just letting himself get beat. 

Elie also resents the fact that he is now taking on the role of caregiver to his father. Elie is torn about his feelings for his father. On the one hand he wants to try to protect his father, and on the other hand, he wants to be away from him. 

"(Rabbi Eliahou's son) had felt that his father was growing weak, he had believed that the end was near and had sought this separation in order to get rid of the burden, to free himself from an encumbrance which could lessen his own chances of survival. I had done well to forget that. And I was glad that Rabbi Eliahou should continue to look for his beloved son. And, in spite of myself, a prayer rose in my heart, to that God in whom I no longer believed. My God, Lord of the Universe, give me strength never to do what Rabbi Eliahou's son has done."

Elie wanted to honor his father and do what was right by him. When he makes the prayer to never do what others had done, he genuinely wants to do what he thinks is right, but by the time his father dies, Elie feels a sense of freedom. He, in fact, did the exact same thing the Rabbi's son had done. He had forgotten what his prayer was. Elie goes through all the human emotions a person can go through, and he takes us along with him. May we never forget, Elie.

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Elie Wiesel, in his novel Night, is very open and honest about his relationship with his father during their time in Auschwitz. IN the beginning, Elie refuses to leave his father's side. He insures, through his answers to the guards and his actions (at one time running to his father when he is sent to the opposite side). As the novel moves forward, depicting their time in the camps, Elie is recalls times where he considered leaving his father. Especially when his father is ill with dysentery, another prisoner states that Elie should be eating his father's portions. For a moment, Elie considers this. Soon after, his shame forces him to reconsider.

By the end, when Elie's father finally dies, Elie finally feels free. While this forces Elie to feel horrible, he still admits that he feels free to worry only about himself.

Essentially, the relationship between Elie and his father changes dramatically. In the beginning, they are both very concerned with the health and safety of the other. By the end, Elie realizes that he has a better chance of surviving on his own.

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