In Chapter 8 of Night, what did Elie think of the advice given to him by the head of the block?

Expert Answers

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

In chapter 8, Elie and his father arrive at the Buchenwald concentration camp, and Elie's father is suffering terribly from dysentery. Despite his lack of strength and illness, Elie tries his best to keep his father alive by preventing him from sleeping in the snow and by sharing his coffee and food rations with him. After a week of Elie sharing his food rations with his father, the block leader advises Elie to stop giving his rations to his dying father. The block leader explains to Elie that in the concentration camp, each man is for himself and family no longer matters. He advises Elie to look out for himself and forget his dying father because he cannot help him. For a fraction of a second, Elie contemplates taking the block leader's advice, but he immediately feels guilty about entertaining the thought of rejecting his dying father. Elie then fetches his father some water and food rations, which he rejects because of his illness. That night, Elie's father passes away in the bottom bunk, and Elie completely gives up hope.

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

Elie is not sure what to think of the block leader's advice to eat his own rations and his father's and not to worry about his father.  He believes that it is too late to do anything for Chlomo and that Elie must conserve his energy and build his own strength.  Elie does not know what to do.  He has been used to looking out for his father, but at many points in the memoir he is resentful toward his dad.  From a practical standpoint, he knows that the block leader is right, but he still feels some obligation to his father.  One sees this in his attempts to get treatment for his father.  While Elie often chooses self-preservation over commitment to his father, in this chapter he mainly demonstrates a concern for his dad.  Still, he cannot cry when his dad passes away and admits to a sense of relief.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial