What did Elie think of the advice given to him by the head of the block in Night?

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Elie is not sure whether to listen to his block captains' advice.

Elie and his father arrive at a new block.  After they are forced to take showers and run, they encounter the head of the block, “a young Pole” who gives them a speech about being in a concentration camp.  He tells them they have “already eluded the worst danger” and he then goes on to explain the importance of faith.

Therefore, muster your strength and keep your faith. We shall all see the day of liberation. Have faith in life, a thousand times faith.  By driving out despair, you will move away from death. (Ch. 3)

Elie says that these were “the first human words.”  The Pole is responsible for “keeping order” on the block and tells them to come to him with complaints.  For the first time in the process, Elie seems to feel like he is being treated like an individual and not a number or one of the mass of victims.

Throughout the book, Elie will face a crisis of faith.  Not everyone seems to still have his faith and believe in its importance, as the Polish block captain did.  Elie is not sure what to believe.

Things are not easy in the concentration camps.  Elie finds himself the recipient of a lot of advice.  Since I am not sure which one you mean, here is another example.  When Elie’s father gets very ill, he is told by the Blockälteste not to share his bread with his father.

Don't forget that you are in a concentration camp. In this place, it is every man for himself, and you cannot think of others. Not even your father. In this place, there is no such thing as father, brother, friend. (Ch. 8)

Elie feels “deep down” that the man is right.  His father is in bad shape, and not likely to live.  However, Elie also wants to help him as much as he can while his father is still alive.  He only thinks about it for “a fraction of a second” and still feels guilty.  He does not know what to do to help his father or himself.

In the concentration camps, Elie gets advice from many quarters.  Some of this advice is very helpful, but these two examples show how the advice gave Elie pause.  He tried to listen to others that meant well, but sometimes he wasn’t sure about whether to take their advice.


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