In Elie Wiesel's Night, why is Eliezer's father denied medical care at Buchenwald?

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mercut1469's profile pic

mercut1469 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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In Section Eight of the memoir Night, Elie desperately seeks medical attention for his father, who is suffering from dysentery. Elie and his father have miraculously reached the concentration camp at Buchenwald after a forced march and a harrowing train ride where the prisoners were denied food. At Buchenwald, Elie's father grows weaker, but the doctors will not treat him. The first doctor Elie speaks with says he can do nothing because he is a surgeon. The doctor says,

"Dysentery? That's not my business. I'm a surgeon. Go on! Make room for the others."

The second doctor who comes into the block has no sympathy for the sick and only berates them as "lazy" and refuses to treat them. Not surprisingly, Elie is incensed and wants to "strangle" the doctor. Subsequently, Elie's father's final days are miserable. He is often the victim of violence as the men around him beat him and steal his food. At one point, the head of the block advises Elie to forget his father and worry about his own survival. In the final hours of his father's life, Elie can do nothing. One morning he awakens and his father is gone. He feels a great sense of relief and believes that he is "free at last" from the constant worrying about his father's well being.

Elie Wiesel died Saturday, July 2, 2016 at the age of 87. 

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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A major reason why Eliezer's father was denied medical care was because of his age.  The guards did not want to spend supposedly valuable time caring for "nonessential" prisoners.  Being an old man and in a very bad condition, the guards displayed even more of a dismissive attitude towards helping him.  At this particular point in the work, the Nazi guards were feeling the pressure of the Allied forces and knew that they were going to be driven out or captured very soon.  This caused them to display even more of a harsh and brutal attitude towards those who had the unfortunate distinction of being with them.  Eliezer's father is an example of having to endure this brutal treatment.

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bigpapi123456789 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

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he was to old and he looked like he was going to die shortly

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