Discussion Topic

The effects of dehumanization and the impact of the father's death in Night by Elie Wiesel

Summary:

In Night, dehumanization strips prisoners of their dignity and humanity, leading to apathy and loss of identity. The death of Elie Wiesel's father profoundly impacts him, symbolizing the ultimate loss of hope and support, and marks a turning point in Elie's emotional and spiritual journey, highlighting the brutal effects of the Holocaust.

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In Night by Elie Wiesel, what was the impact of the father's death?

By the time Elie Wiesel's father dies in his book Night, everyone has suffered so much, that the death is almost an aside. Death has become a part of life, and the Jewish people in the camps see it every single day, multiple times. Elie has stuck by his father's side throughout. Early in the book, he looked to his father for comfort and as his caretaker. As the story continues, the roles of father and son reverse, and Elie is the one watching out for his weakening father. By the time Mr. Wiesel dies, Elie is exhausted, and though he wishes he could cry for his father, the overwhelming feeling Elie has is one of relief. 

"I did not weep, and it pained me that I could not weep. But I had no more tears. And, in the depths of my being, in the recesses of my weakened conscience, could I have searched it, I might perhaps have found something like--free at last" (Wiesel 106).

Elie was so weak himself at this point, that he couldn't even feel anymore. The Nazis had taken even that away from the Jewish people. 

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In Night by Elie Wiesel, how was Eliezer's father affected by dehumanization?

There were many ways in which all characters, including Eliezer's father, reacted to the evils of the Nazi regime. 

First, Elie says that his father was a man who did not really show emotions. However, when he saw the brutality of the Nazis, he broke down. Elie says that this was the first time he saw his father weep. 

Second, throughout the memoir, Elie's father showed incredible resolve to live. He also sought to protect Elie. From this perspective, we can say that the dehumanization did not make him lose hope or break him to such a point where he forgot to be a decent human being. He always tried to love Elie and provide for him. In one touching section, Elie records an act of love toward him.

We were able to breathe again. My father had a present for me: a half ration of bread, bartered for something he had found at the depot, a piece of rubber that could be used to repair a shoe.

Even to the end, Elie's father sought to protect his son, even when he was dying.

On the third night of our journey, I woke up with a start when I felt two hands on my throat, trying to strangle me. I barely had time to call out: "Father!"

Just that one word. I was suffocating. But my father had awakened and grabbed my aggressor. Too weak to overwhelm him, he thought of calling Meir Katz:

"Come, come quickly! Someone is strangling my son!" In a few moments, I was freed. I never did find out why this stranger had wanted to strangle me.

In the end, Elie's father did not make it, but he did not let the dehumanization reduce his sense of love, loyalty and humanity. 

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