"Night" by Elie Wiesel demonstrates that the instinct to survive is stronger than any other force within people. Discuss this please.

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Elie Wiesel wrote the book Night ten years after his release from the horror of the concentration camps of the Nazis.  As a boy of fifteen, his priorities have been studying the Talmud and living in his beloved Jewish home.  He is essentially an innocent. 

When his family and the rest of his town are taken on the train to Auschwitz, Eliezer begins to lose his identity and becomes a number tattooed on his arm. Along with his family, his childhood is murdered at the hands of the Nazis.

Eliezer becomes obsevant of humanity and finds the worst not only in those around him but in himself as well. Mentally and physically abused along with starvation does terrible things to the human spirit.  Everyone becomes concerned only with their own survival.

His beloved father becomes a realist and warns Eliezer of all potential dangers. His father rations his food and eats anything that is conceivably edible.  However, as he becomes weaker, the father relies more and more on Eliezer.

Throughout his father’s demise, Eliezer attempts to help him to the point of losing his own life.  On more than one occasion when he thinks that his father has died, Elie loses the will to live.  Eventually, Elie does think of his father as a burden.

In his mind, he sees himself not protecting his father for fear of being beaten himself.  On his deathbed, the father calls for Eliezer to come to him and help him.  The young boy goes to his own bed and falls asleep, allowing his father to die by himself.  When he awakens in the morning, the father has already been taken to the crematorium.

This is the greatest regret of his life.  Leaving his father to die on his own seemed to him unforgiveable.  As the war draws to an end and freedom is not far away, Eliezer determines to do nothing but eat to survive.  When this happens, Wiesel no longer writes about his last experiences because nothing mattered to him once his father was gone.

Survival of the fittest is true for Wiesel.  He is an admirable character.  He does stay with his father and provide for him as best that he can. One son kills his own father for bread.  The majority of the time Eliezer nursed his father, defended him, and tried so hard to keep him alive.

On my return from the bread distribution, I found my father crying like a child:

My son, they are beating me!


Him, the Pole. They beat me…

One more stab to the heart, one more reason to hate.  One less reason to live.

My son, water. I’m burning up…my insides…

I didn’t move. I was afraid,

 After his death, Eleizer had to survive for his family, for his father’s legacy, and to keep the Nazis from defeating him. Although the boy loses his faith in God’s mercy, he does not lose faith in God.  By the end of the book, the reader knows that God’s will and Eliezer will become as one again. 

Over and over, Wiesel proves himself an honorable person.  His father gives him the only things that he can give him: a fork and spoon.  When father is is not killed, Eliezer passed them back to him.  He prays to God that he will never leave his father behind as he has seen other sons do.  This is the man that his father would have chosen for him to become.