In Chapter 8 of Night, can you explain how the father/son roles had been reversed between Elie and his father?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

As we reach Chapter 8 of Night , Eliezer's father is becoming progressively weaker. This means that Eliezer is forced to take on the role of looking after his father as best he can. And though Eliezer is briefly tempted to stop caring for his father and start looking out...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

As we reach Chapter 8 of Night, Eliezer's father is becoming progressively weaker. This means that Eliezer is forced to take on the role of looking after his father as best he can. And though Eliezer is briefly tempted to stop caring for his father and start looking out for himself, he continues to do what he can for the old man. Eliezer's family life has already been destroyed forever by enforced separation from his mother and sister, and the role reversal of father and son is a continuation of that traumatic process.

But Eliezer has been brutalized by his experiences to such an extent that he comes to regard his sick, ailing father as a burden. Eliezer is incredibly guilty at feeling this way, but he has no choice; amid the daily horrors of the concentration camp his sole priority is survival. When his father passes away, Eliezer sheds no tears. This is because he's been gradually stripped of his humanity by his Nazi captors. He cannot weep for his dead father because his emotional life has been utterly destroyed by all the death, pain, disease, and endless hunger. Talking of which, all he can think about at that terrible moment is where his next meal is coming from.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In chapter 8 of "Night," Elie's father has already died.  Up until the point of his death he became weaker and weaker during the imprisonment.  Normally we assume that children should be taken care of by their fathers.  The adult should see to the needs of the child.  In the case of Elie, as well as many other youngsters, the rolls were reversed.  The parents were often ill, injured, or too weak to look after their children.  Elie spent most of his time in the concentration camps trying to look after his father.  He did a good job too.  He saved his life on several occasions.  He gave up his gold crown so that the guard would stop hurting his father.  He tried to make sure he and his father were never separated. 

In chapter 8 Elie says," I had to stay at Buchenwald until April eleventh.  I have nothing to say of my life during this period.  It no longer mattered.  After my father's death, nothing could touch me anymore." (pg76)

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team