In Night by Elie Wiesel, what advice does the head of the block give to Eliezer? How does it compare to the advice given by the young Pole?

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Night by Elie Wiesel was written ten years after his release from Buchenwald concentration camp at the end of World War II. Wiesel lost his entire family and barely survived himself in the German Nazi camps. His story covers the years that he and his father were transferred between camps and the atrocities that he saw and personally experienced.

When the men first arrive in the camp, everything is taken from them including their belongings and clothes. After they were disinfected, shaved, and tattooed, they are taken to Auschwitz and in the middle of the night finally get to their barracks.

The man in charge was a young Polish man who spoke to the group with words that sounded friendly.  These are his instructions:

  • You will suffer
  • Do not give up
  • You are lucky to have survived the selection
  • Do not lose your faith.
  • Despair will only move you closer to death.
  • Work together as comrades who share the same fate
  • The crematoriums are nearby so help each other
  • That is the only way to survive.

His advice seemed human and hopeful. Later, Wiesel learns that the young pole was removed for being too easy on the prisoners

Much later in the book, Eliezer’s father becomes sick and childlike in his suffering. The Block leader asks if his father is very sick.  Eliezer answers that he is. Eliezer's father has dysentery and is becoming increasingly weak in his bunk. In a delirious fever, he tells Eliezer where he buried the gold and money. Eliezer manages to bring his father to see a doctor, but the doctor refuses to look at him.  The leader gives the boy this advice:

“Listen to me kid. Don’t forget that you are in a concentration camp.”

  • It is every man for himself
  • Do not think of others even your father
  • There are no relatives in a place like a concentration camp
  • Everyone dies alone
  • Do not give your ration of food to your father anymore
  • Your father cannot be helped
  • Take his rations from him. 

Eliezer went to sleep with his father calling out to him; the next morning he discovers that his father died in the night, and he had been taken to the crematorium.  This forced Eliezer to remove himself emotionally and only to think about food until he could extricate himself from this living hell.

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