What event in Night caused Elie to witness his father cry for the first time in his life?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 1, the Nazi army finally arrives in Elie's small town of Sighet and the Jewish citizens are segregated into two separate ghettos. One night, Elie's father learns that all the Jews will be deported and must immediately begin packing their belongings. Several days after the transports begin, Elie learns that his family will be the last to leave their hometown. On the day that his family is forced to leave their original ghetto, Elie recalls the policemen ordering them to stand outside before giving them the command to begin marching. As Elie and the other Jews begin marching towards a smaller ghetto, he recalls looking at his father and witnessing him cry for the first time in his life. Elie says,

My father was crying. It was the first time I saw him cry. I had never thought it possible (Wiesel, 44).

Elie's father is a stoic man, who rarely shows emotion, which is why Elie is surprised to witness his father crying. From the small ghetto, Elie and his Jewish neighbors are taken to the train station, where they are eventually herded into cattle cars and taken to the Auschwitz concentration camp.

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Elie's father, as did most of the adult Jews in Sighet, spent the early years of the war assuring themselves that they would not be affected by the fighting. They told each other that they were protected by the distance between Sighet and the borders of Poland, that there were too many Jews for the Nazis to be able to carry out all the horrific threats and rumors, that there might be inconvenience but nothing more.

When the order to prepare for transportation came to the ghetto, Elie's father didn't have time to cry at first. He was too busy trying to alert the others and help those who were transported on the first day prepare. On the morning when Elie and his family had to leave their family home, however, Elie's father could no longer restrain himself.

I did not want to look at my parents' faces. I did not want to break into tears...Finally, the order came: "Forward! March!" My father was crying. It was the first time I saw him cry.