One of the themes in Night is Eliezer's discovery of the many ways that cruel treatment can make decent people turn into ruthless and uncaring people. Do you think that Eliezer escapes this fate or does he experience it as well?
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I hope you get more than one answer to this question. Here is the point in the book that always strikes me.
In war, people see a side of themselves they wish they never had to see. Desperate times cause people to do desperate things, and although Elie remained a good person, sometimes his thoughts would stray. An example of this is when he and his father were trying to stay awake and alive together, being forced to run or walk great distances and sleep in the snow. S.S. guards constantly watch them. Rabbi Eliahu stopped Elie, asking him if he had seen his son. They had been separated somehow, and he was desperately trying to find him again.
Elie told the rabbi that he did not know where the man’s son was, but then later remembered that his son had gotten separated from his older, slower father on purpose, to increase “his own chance for survival” (Ch. 6, p. 91). Since Elie had spent so long protecting his father and being protected by him, what he does next might surprise some readers.
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." (Ch. 6, p. 91)
Although Elie is a good person, he understands in himself the risk to do what Rabbi Eliahu’s son has done. He has felt the desire to fend for himself at all costs. This is the effect of war. Even though Elie remained with his father until his death, it was a difficult road. Elie survived, and his father knew he never deserted him.
Why do some people have the ability to survive while others do not? Why did Elie stay with his father, when Rabbi Eliahu’s son abandoned his? There was something in Elie, perhaps faith in the God he prayed to but says he no longer believed in, that allowed him to remember who he was before this happened. He held on to that person long enough to be with his father through his last days.
I personally believe that Eliezer unfortunately did not escape that fate. The theme is exemplified when the narrator unearths this discovery through changes he finds within himself. While he may not have acted ruthlessly, his thoughts often strayed toward the "dark side." He was ashamed of his father's fatigue due to his old age and can be seen halfheartedly taking care of him near the end of the novel. He wishes to keep food for himself rather than his ailing father because to him, he is better off. Yet, you can also see he still has a conscience because he feels guilt of having these ill thoughts. These feelings of guilt allows Eliezer to witness the transformation Eliezer took in the concentration camp.
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