In his book Night, author Elie Wiesel writes about the horrors of the World War II death camps. On the trip to the camp, Elie’s father saves his life:
I felt two hands on my throat, trying to strangle me. I barely had time to call out: "Father!" Just that one word. I was suffocating. But my father had awakened and grabbed my aggressor. Too weak to overwhelm him, he thought of calling Meir Katz: "Come, come quickly! Someone is strangling my son!" In a few moments, I was freed.
Although perhaps not as heroic, there are many other instances when the father protects Elie or sacrifices for him or even tries to be brave for Elie’s sake. All these actions contribute to Elie's ability to survive the camps. For instance, when another prisoner strikes Wiesel’s father, Elie writes:
All I could think was: I shall never forgive them for this. My father must have guessed my thoughts, because he whispered in my ear: "It doesn't hurt." His cheek still bore the red mark of the hand.
The father does not want to scare Elie, and so he tells him that his cheek does not hurt even though it is clear that the blow was hard. On other occasions when Elie wants to rest, his father intercedes and rallies all of his strength to help his son:
My father shook me. "Not here…Get up…A little farther down.” He also tells Elie, "Don't let yourself be overcome by sleep, Eliezer. It's dangerous to fall asleep in snow. One falls asleep forever. Come, my son, come…Get up."…I got up, with clenched teeth. Holding on to me with one arm, he led me outside. It was not easy.”
Elie’s father also gives his son his food to help him keep his strength. When Elie gulps his pitiful dinner down, his father says, "You mustn't eat all at once. Tomorrow is another day." But seeing that his advice had come too late, and that there was nothing left of my ration, he didn't even start his own. On one occasion he says, "Me, I'm not hungry." On another occasion:
My father had a present for me: a half ration of bread, bartered for something he had found at the depot.
When the father is too sick to continue and has given up hope, he gives Elie whatever he has on him:
"Here, take this knife," he said. "I won't need it anymore. You may find it useful. Also take this spoon. Don't sell it. Quickly! Go ahead, take what I'm giving you!"
While he probably does not view his father as a hero, Elie both loves and pities him. Elie’s father deluded himself initially. When it was still possible to escape Hungary, Elie’s father had refused. Yet, Elie loves his father throughout. Unlike Rabbi Eliahu's son, who turned his back on his father, Elie writes:
And in spite of myself, a prayer formed inside me, a prayer to this God in whom I no longer believed. "Oh God, Master of the Universe, give me the strength never to do what Rabbi Eliahu's son has done."