When does Elie Wiesel in the book Night get separated from his mother?  

In the book Night, Elie Wiesel is separated from his mother in chapter 3, shortly after their arrival at Auschwitz.

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As Elie exits the train at the beginning of chapter 3, he realizes that he is also leaving behind his "illusions" about their precarious situation.

A line of men with machine guns pointing at the train's passengers creates a fearsome scene as Elie and his family arrive at Auschwitz. The family holds hands for emotional support as they face this uncertain and dangerous new reality. Suddenly, a man with a club appears, demanding that men and women separate. Men are required to head to the left, and women are required to veer to the right.

In the confusion and fear, Elie could not have imagined that this would be the final time he would see his mother and sister. The final image of the two of them walking away from him is one that is particularly poignant:

Tzipora was holding Mother's hand. I saw them walking farther and farther away; Mother was stroking my sister's blond hair, as if to protect her.

This touching example of a mother's instinct to calm and reassure her young daughter, even though she was certainly terrified herself, is a testament to her strength and resolve in the face of evil. In that moment when they were separated by a man wielding a club, Elie is forever separated from his mother and Tzipora. Because of the imminent threats all around them, Elie turned his focus to keeping up with his father and surviving the next phase of the process.

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In chapter 3 of Night, Elie and his family arrive at the concentration camp of Auschwitz. They have all just endured the terrible train ride together and have no idea what to truly expect now that they have arrived at the camp. They have never even heard of Auschwitz. Immediately, they are stripped of their few personal possessions, and the men and women are separated from each other. The men, including Elie and his father, are sent to the left. The women, including Elie's mother and little sister, are sent to the right. Although he does not realize it at the moment, this will be the last time that Elie ever sees his mother and sister. They are likely murdered shortly after their arrival.

Elie's main concern at this moment is staying with his father. They go through the tragic sorting process together when Elie lies about their ages and occupation to make them appear to be better candidates for labor at the camp. The two of them manage to stay together until the final days of the war, when Elie's father finally succumbs to disease. By the time that they are liberated from the camp, Elie is the only surviving member of his family.

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When the family arrives at Auschwitz, Elie and his father are separated from his mother in the sorting.

Although things were bad in transit, things get much worse when they arrive at the concentration camp.  The family and most of the other Jews have no idea where they are and what is happening. They have never heard of Auschwitz.

Right away, the men are separated from the women and children.  Since Elie is old enough to work, he goes with his father and the men.  Everyone forms two lines, and the women and children are marched off.

And I walked on with my father, with the men. I didn't know that this was the moment in time and the place where I was leaving my mother and Tzipora forever. I kept walking, my father holding my hand. (Ch. 3)

Elie and his father’s line is further evaluated after the sorting by Aushwitz’s Angel of Death Dr. Mengele.  He wants to make sure that everyone is fit to work.  Those who are not are sent off to die in the crematorium.  This is Mengele’s job.

A man questions them first.  

The man interrogating me was an inmate. I could not see his face, but his voice was weary and warm. (Ch. 3)

Elie is told to say he is eighteen instead of fifteen, and his father is to say he is forty and not fifty.  In this way, they both will be seen as fit to work.  Elie won’t be a child, and his father will not be an old man.  This man saved their lives, and another inmate berates them for not getting away sooner.  They are stuck now.

The sorting is one of the most tragic events that befalls Elie and his father.  In one moment, his mother and little sister are sent to their deaths.  He has no way of knowing what is actually happening at the time, or how close to death he came himself.  This is the horror and inhumanity of Aushwitz, where Jews who were not useful for slave labor were immediately killed.  Even the ones who were saved would often die of overwork, exposure, disease, and starvation.

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