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

Elie Wiesel reacted with varying degrees of ambivalence when his father was beaten in Night. His reaction is indicative of how his emotions become numbed by imprisonment.

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Elie is generally ambivalent toward the beatings that his father receives. This isn't because he's uncaring in any way; it's because his natural feelings toward his father have been numbed and blunted by the numerous horrors of life in a concentration camp. As a result, Elie is no longer able...

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Elie is generally ambivalent toward the beatings that his father receives. This isn't because he's uncaring in any way; it's because his natural feelings toward his father have been numbed and blunted by the numerous horrors of life in a concentration camp. As a result, Elie is no longer able to feel normal human emotions and so cannot respond appropriately to his father's shocking ill treatment.

Among other things, life in a concentration camp can inculcate an attitude of survival of the fittest, where everyone has to look out for themselves if they're to stand the slightest chance of avoiding death. This "every man for himself" attitude inevitably has a profound effect on Elie, to the extent that he comes to see his father as something of a burden.

Elie also comes to resent his father's weakness, as can be observed in his attitude toward his being beaten by Idek. When Idek beats up his father, Elie is actually angry at his father for not avoiding this savage, brutal attack. Again, it's not that Elie is being callous; this is simply what he has been reduced to by his experiences of life in a concentration camp, which have gradually dehumanized him, reducing him to a shell of his former self.

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Elie’s reactions to his father’s beatings are telling of how ill treatment at the hands of the Nazis and kapos breaks down his spirit over time.

At Birkenau, when he sees his father attacked for the simple action of asking where the toilets are when he experiences a “colic attack,” Elie simply stands and watches. However, regret sets in quickly, and he vows that he will never be able to forgive either the kapo or the organization that he stands for.

At Buna, Elie and his father are part of a group of prisoners assigned to load diesel motors onto trains. During this labor, a kapo named Idek accuses Elie’s father of being an “old loafer.” Elie’s father must subsequently accept a brutal beating with an iron bar. The severity of this beating is such that his father appears to have “[broken] in two.” By this time, Elie has adjusted to life in the camps, and he finds that his father, rather than the guards, is the target of his anger. He feels like his father should have been able to avoid the beating by “[avoiding] Idek’s wrath.” Later, he tries to teach his father how to march in step so as to avoid future beatings, but unfortunately, his father does not prove to be an adept pupil.

Elie is self-aware enough to realize that life in the camps is dehumanizing him and making him ambivalent toward his father’s suffering.

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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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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.

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