In Eli Wiesel's Night, why did Eliezer think that his own punishment would cause his father to suffer more than him?pages 47-65

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Eli Wiesel's Night, Eli and his father end up going to each concentration/labor camp together. They are very careful not to be separated.

At the beginning when everything is still quite new to them, and they are still learning the rules, Eli's father is beaten. Later, Eli is beaten, and this happens as the spirit moves the men who watch over them.

When Eli arrives, he is very young, not just in years, but in behavior. When they are first fed, Eli refuses the food like a petulant child.

At about noon they brought us soup: a plate of thick soup for each person. Tormented though I was by hunger, I refused to touch it. I was still the spoiled child I had always been.

However, as Eli and his father experience more horrors, Eli is forced to learn to survive: his father is beaten and Eli says nothing.

...he dealt my father such a clout that he fell to the ground, crawling back to his place on all fours.

I did not move. What had happened to me? My father had just been struck, before my very eyes, and I had not flickered an eyelid...Yesterday, I should have sunk my nails into the criminal's flesh. Had I changed so much, then? So quickly?

He is gripped by remorse and shame. He remains silent or risks certain death.

His father, still wanting to protect everything about his son says...

..."It doesn't hurt." His cheek still bore the red mark of the man's hand.

Eli learns more about his father each day. He watches him diminish, becoming a shadow of who he once was; but his father's primary concern is still for Eli. Eli comes to realize, as he becomes more aware of the injustice of this new world he is in, that his father would rather suffer himself than see Eli suffer. Because of his father's love for him, Eli knows that if he is whipped or clouted by a guard, it will be worse for his father as he watches for he will be witnessing cruelty to the son he loves so much. He would be better able to withstand the suffering himself than to have to watch Eli hurt.