How does Elie respond to his father's death?

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mercut1469's profile pic

mercut1469 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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Elie reveals contrasting feelings toward his father at the end of Night when the man is on the brink of death from dysentery. Through most of the novel he tries to be loyal to his father, but he is often unable and even unwilling to defend him. In section eight he wants to help him and even offers him soup, but there is really very little he can do and the doctors are no help. He is told by the head of the block at Buchenwald to look out only for himself and that in the camp there are "no fathers, no brothers, no friends." Elie is paralyzed by fear as his father's cry for water brings an attack from an SS officer who "dealt him a violent blow on the head." Elie's only response is to stay "gazing at him for over an hour, engraving into myself the picture of his blood stained face, his shattered skull."

Elie can do nothing, and when he awakens the next morning his father is gone, replaced by another prisoner. He reports that he could not even weep for his father's death and that his only response was to feel that he was finally free, free from constantly worrying and agonizing over the fate of his father.

ms-mcgregor's profile pic

ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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By the time Elie's father dies, Elie is simply too emotionally exhausted to cry. He has stayed with his father during his a long train ride to Buchenwald, and through his father's illness. He even feels a sense of relief, although he feels badly for being relieved.