As seen in Night, how does the relationship between Elie and his father change during their time in Auschwitz?

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Sarah Miles eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Night gives us a firsthand account of the horrors that the Jews faced during WW 2. Elie Weisel's experiences in the concentration camp take us into a world where death and sacrifice were made daily. Elie and his father are kept together when they first arrive at Auschwitz. They are thought to be strong, healthy men who can do hard manual labor. Elie wants to stay close to his father, at first, to make sure he stays alive. However, as the story progresses, we see that Elie grows to resent his father. When his father becomes ill, Elie feels disgust with his father. When his father is beaten, Elie is mad at his father, not the officer, for just letting himself get beat. 

Elie also resents the fact that he is now taking on the role of caregiver to his father. Elie is torn about his feelings for his father. On the one hand he wants to try to protect his father, and on the other hand, he wants to be away from him. 

"(Rabbi Eliahou's son) had felt that his father was growing weak, he had believed that the end was near and had sought this separation in order to get rid of the burden, to free himself from an encumbrance which could lessen his own chances of survival. I had done well to forget that. And I was glad that Rabbi Eliahou should continue to look for his beloved son. And, in spite of myself, a prayer rose in my heart, to that God in whom I no longer believed. My God, Lord of the Universe, give me strength never to do what Rabbi Eliahou's son has done."

Elie wanted to honor his father and do what was right by him. When he makes the prayer to never do what others had done, he genuinely wants to do what he thinks is right, but by the time his father dies, Elie feels a sense of freedom. He, in fact, did the exact same thing the Rabbi's son had done. He had forgotten what his prayer was. Elie goes through all the human emotions a person can go through, and he takes us along with him. May we never forget, Elie.

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Lorna Stowers eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Elie Wiesel, in his novel Night, is very open and honest about his relationship with his father during their time in Auschwitz. IN the beginning, Elie refuses to leave his father's side. He insures, through his answers to the guards and his actions (at one time running to his father when he is sent to the opposite side). As the novel moves forward, depicting their time in the camps, Elie is recalls times where he considered leaving his father. Especially when his father is ill with dysentery, another prisoner states that Elie should be eating his father's portions. For a moment, Elie considers this. Soon after, his shame forces him to reconsider.

By the end, when Elie's father finally dies, Elie finally feels free. While this forces Elie to feel horrible, he still admits that he feels free to worry only about himself.

Essentially, the relationship between Elie and his father changes dramatically. In the beginning, they are both very concerned with the health and safety of the other. By the end, Elie realizes that he has a better chance of surviving on his own.

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