What are three ways Elie Wiesel's father helped him stay alive in the camps, as detailed in Night?
Despite the fact that his father is often a burden to Elie, the older man's presence in the camps is one of the major reasons why Elie ultimately survived. Throughout their internment, Elie is constantly concerned with his father's well being and considers himself indispensable to his father's survival. This attitude probably helped keep Elie from succumbing to exhaustion and starvation. There are two good examples of this in section six. During the forced march from Buna to Gleiwitz, Elie suggests that his survival was prompted by his father's presence running at his side. He believed that if he faltered and could not go on, his father would also certainly perish:
My father's presence was the only thing that stopped me....He was running at my side, out of breath, at the end of his strength, at his wit's end. I had no right to let myself die. What would he do without me? I was his only support.
A little later in this section, Elie is again on the verge of giving in to exhaustion when his father saves him. After marching (more like running) forty-two miles, he drops to the snowy ground to sleep. His father pleads with him to move on and not to fall asleep on the frozen "carpet" of snow:
"Don't let yourself be overcome by sleep, Eliezer. It's dangerous to fall asleep in the snow. You might sleep for good. Come on, come on. Get up."...I got up, gritting my teeth. Supporting me with his arm, he led me outside.
Even though Elie's father does not survive the camps, it could certainly be argued that Elie lived on primarily because he had a purpose in life during the horrible year he spent imprisoned. In his book Man's Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl, also a camp survivor, argued that apathy and lack of purpose was one of the major reasons why prisoners died. They simply gave up because they could see no reason to carry on such an abominable existence. For Elie, no matter how bad things got, he always had his father (his father died shortly before the liberation of Buchenwald) to give him a purpose and a reason for living.