What did Elie do when the gypsy struck his father? Why? What was his father's response?

Expert Answers info

Octavia Cordell eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)


calendarEducator since 2016

write1,018 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Elie does nothing when his father is struck. In fact, his inability or unwillingness to defend his father gives him pause:

What had happened to me? My father had just been struck, in front of me, and I had not even blinked. I had watched and kept silent. Only yesterday, I would have dug my nails into this criminal's flesh. Had I changed that much? So fast?

Elie has internalized the rules of the camp, the first of which is, do not attract attention to yourself. This incident occurs after brief orientation to life at Auschwitz, where an SS officer has explained that they each have a choice, "Work or the chimney!" In such a place, where brutality is the only constant, Elie learns quickly that any attachment, even to his father, can make himself a target. He is ashamed, but also filled with a burning rage: "I shall never forgive them for this." His father, understanding his shame, is quick to say that he is not hurt; but pain is not what Elie is angry about: he is angry about his sudden...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 650 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write9,839 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Dayna Watsica eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write4,795 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial