How did Elie Wiesel react when his father was beaten in Night?

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thetall's profile pic

thetall | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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In Night, the reader is exposed to Eliezer’s emotional transformation and feelings toward his father, his only close relative in the camps. The first time Eliezer’s father is physically attacked, Eliezer feels helpless and remorseful. He fails to stand up for his father against the gypsy.

When Idek attacks Eliezer’s father, Eliezer keeps quiet and thinks of saving himself. He is angry at his father for not avoiding the attack.

Eliezer tries to help his father learn how to march correctly to avoid the frequent attacks from Franek. Franek wants Eliezer’s gold crown and punishes Eliezer’s father, forcing Eliezer to give it to him.

When Eliezer’s father is suffering from dysentery and hospitalized, other patients attack him because he cannot relieve himself outside. Eliezer verbally abuses the patients and tries to bribe them with rations of food, but the patients only laugh at him. Eliezer is trying to make his father’s condition better.

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teachsuccess's profile pic

teachsuccess | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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At Birkenau, Elie Wiesel finds himself strangely apathetic when he witnesses his father being beaten. Due to an attack of colic, his father asks for the bathroom, but the Kapo beats him instead. Elie is both petrified and stunned at his passivity and his inability to save his father from physical suffering.

Another instance of Elie's father suffering a beating is at the work camp in Buna. While the prisoners are loading diesel motors onto the trains, Idek, the Kapo, suddenly decides to vent his irritation on Elie's father. Idek viciously beats the older man with an iron bar because he claims that the old man is working too slowly. As Elie watches his father receiving a terrible beating, he finds himself nursing ambivalent thoughts. First, he remains silent and does not speak up in his father's defense. He even wonders whether he should run away so that he will not have to suffer the same fate. Then, he finds himself irrationally angry at his father for not being smart enough to escape Idek's wrath and for not doing everything he could to prevent Idek from getting angry.

Elie's own reaction is a great sorrow to him, as he thinks that being at the camp has dehumanized him.