In Night, how has the relationship between Elie and his father changed during their time in the concentration camps?

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renelane's profile pic

renelane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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Eliezer and his father have stuck together in the camp , and stayed strong for each other throughout most of their ordeal. This is in contrast to their relationship before their imprisonment. Eliezer was aware of his father's concern for others before his own family, and he greatly resented it.

But the time of crisis brings the father and son together for a time, at one point only holding themselves together for the sake of the other. Yet, when his father contracts dysentery, Eliezer begins to resent having to take care of his father. He begins to think of him as a burden, and for a time, considers taking his rations. When they take his father to the crematorium, still breathing, Eliezer only stands and watches , without emotion.

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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In the beginning of Weisel's story, he has almost no relationship with his father.  His father is a busy community leader and his duties leave little time for interaction with his son.  Elie laments this lack of connection in his earlier years, and some bitterness in his father's alienation is present as well.  As early as page 2, he recalls that his father was :   "more concerned with others than with his own family."

However, the horrors of the Camps make the pair value their relationship.  As the terrors they endure esclate, Elie has "one thought - not to lose [his father]."  When the father and son experience the New Year, the relationship has completely transformed, from one of alienation, to one of protection, to one of closeness.  The author says, as the two contemplate their future (or possible lack of future) that they had "never understood one another so clearly."