The "inheritance" becomes a powerful moment in the middle of the book. In the selections that will determine who will live and who will perish, it is announced that Eliezer's father's number has been read off as remaining behind in the camp. The moment in which he gives Eliezer his knife and spoon is what Wiesel terms as "his inheritance." Eliezer's father gives his son these belongings because he simply does not know what will happen to him. In doing so, Eliezer's father says that his time might be coming to an end and he wishes to give his son something. Eliezer, for his part, denies this and continues to tell his father that he must not lose hope and that he will survive.
The giving of the spoon and knife is significant. The passing of something from father to son, one of the basic staples of faith and life, has been reduced to something so mundane occupying importance as "inheritance." Additionally, there is the feeling that Eliezer is becoming his own "man" and that Eliezer's father is no longer able to provide the guidance to his son as he once did. This foreshadows how the rest of the narrative will unfold.
In chapter 5, Elie's father gets his prioner number written down during a selection when he thought he had passed through. When he comes to the realization, hehurredly goes to Elie and gives his knife and spoon to him, saying that he would not need them any more.