Idek, the head of the camp, unleashes his fury on Wiesel’s father.
Wiesel watches without moving, and thinks mostly about how to avoid being hit himself. His anger is directed toward his father for not knowing how to stay out of Idek’s way. Explain his reaction, his lack of sympathy.
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In this section and the one before it, the reader begins to absorb the full impact of the Holocaust on Eliezer. The gradual erosion of his humanity proves to be the most horrifying and painful condition of the Holocaust. In the previous section, Eliezer professes loyalty to his family, including his mother and sister. Yet, they are separated from father and son during the Birkenau. In the process, they are also dislodged from the narrative as we never hear of them as Eliezer does not speak of them. This gradual withering away of his sense of humanity is present as he watches his father being beaten. This condition reveals much about Eliezer's state of being in the world. On one hand, Eliezer has witnessed a great many atrocities and they are beginning to exact a toll on him. Watching the cruelty, the horrific executions, and the systematic slaughter on a mass scale begins to impact Eliezer on a psychological level. What else can one say when one watches infants and babies burned alive? To witness this exacts a huge toll on one's sense of understanding of the world. Eliezer's faith in being freed or escape becomes less, his sense of defiance weakens, as his emotional frame of reference becomes increasingly attached. Eliezer's faith in God begins to be radically transformed into a shell of anger, remorse, and limitless agony at his own condition and the millions of others around him. The only way he can articulate this condition is through withdrawal and disengagement with the horror that surrounds and envelops him, invading his sense of reality and understanding of the world. The other element that is evoked from this is that Wiesel, as an author, is using his memoir to make a critical statement. When we, as human beings, take the form of the world around us and lose our ability to speak out and take defiant stands against injustice, we embolden the aggressors and perpetrators of evil. Eliezer watches his father being beaten and his silence increases the torture. For Wiesel, silence is a "nod to the aggressor" and the illustration of Eliezer's lack of sympathy speaks to this.
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