In Night, describe the tragic incident between a father and a son on the train. What might this event reveal about the fragile nature of humanity?Chapter 7

Expert Answers
gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter 7, the prisoners are packed tightly together into a train car heading towards Buchenwald, and Elie witnesses a son kill his father over a piece of bread. A few days into their journey to Buchenwald, the train stops in a German town, and a worker throws a piece of bread into one of the train cars. Elie recalls watching dozens of starving prisoners fight violently for the piece of bread. German spectators begin to gather and start throwing more pieces of bread into the wagons to watch the emaciated prisoners fight among each other to grab the bread.

Elie recalls seeing an old man inconspicuously grab a piece and put it into his mouth. Before the old man can swallow the bread, another younger man suddenly strikes him. The old man collapses and begins crying for his son to stop beating him and tells his son that he is willing to share the bread. Unfortunately, the old man's son beats his father to death and searches his body for more food. Shortly after killing his father, two prisoners beat the son to death.

This horrific, violent story reveals the fragility of human nature. The son's ruthless actions reveal that humans are willing to do anything to survive and meet their primitive needs. In the midst of extreme hunger, humans disregard relationships and social standards to satisfy themselves. This incident reveals that humans are debased beings, who are willing act savagely towards anyone in order to survive at all costs.

cmcqueeney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

On the train to Buchenwald, Elie witnesses a tragic scene between a father and son. At a train stop, some people begin dropping bread into the train to watch the Jews fight over it. In Elie's car, an old man gets a bit of the bread and crawls away to eat it, but before he can, his son beats him to death and takes it from him. The son is then beaten to death by two other men who take the bread from him. This scene between father and son stands in stark contrast to the previous scene where Elie comes to his father's defense when some of the others think his father is dead and try to throw him from the train. Elie does everything he can to get his father to show he's alive to save his life.

This scene between the father and son shows that hunger, depravity, and extreme physical needs can break family bonds. It shows that people who are treated like animals, as the Jews were, can become like animals - living by the law of survival of the fittest.