The night is a phenomenal depiction of a father-son relationship. The story focuses on the change which is an inevitable universal truth. Nothing is permanent in this world, not even the relationship; and everything is subject to change in the course of time. It unfolds a different facet of this relationship according to changing circumstances. The two roles are common in this relationship: a protector and a protectee, a guardian and a dependent or a mentor and a disciple. Initially, the role of a protector was played by the protagonist’s father, who was the mentor of their entire community. Later on, when they were in concentration camp their roles were swapped. The father during the concentration camp is shown meek and dependent on his son. The father, who is most powerful for Elie, then became vulnerable. Initially, he protects his father by deterring attackers and finding food for his father. When the survival is at stake, Elie starts feeling that his father is a major obstacle in his survival. Basically, the entire novel is a real side of human relationships, which is all the time cannot be emotional but at a certain level, becomes practical and harsh.
At the initial stage, Elie’s father is like a hero for Elie and their relationship is stable. They are not close to each other. Initially, the father was an idol a powerful figure for Eliezer. At the same time, his father is shown as an aloof person from his family. He was the mentor of the whole community but according to Eliezer, he could not play the same role with his family members. “There was never any display of emotion, even at home. He was more concerned with others than with his own family” (Wiesel 2). Elie’s father was Elie’s protector. He relies completely on his father for support and comfort. “I had one thought – not to lose him. Not to leave me alone.” (Weisel 27) The circumstances start changing at Auschwitz when his father needs his help and protection. Elie states, “What would he do without me? I was his only support.” (Wiesel 82) As his protector, Elie tries to keep his father from being chosen by the Nazis. But when the situation becomes worst, as a law of nature the person tries to save his life first and then comes the loved one. When it was the question of Elie’s own life when it was at risk, he decides to let his father die for the sake of his own survival and abandoned him to die. “everyman has to fight for himself and not think of anyone else. Even his father.” (Wiesel 121 – 122) As stated by Hegel, “History is the slaughter bench at which the happiness of peoples, the wisdom of states and the virtue of individuals have been sacrificed.” (Davis Stephen 6)The virtues, moralities which are possible when individual life is in a secure and comfortable zone but it is very difficult to carry the burden of morality when there is a question of survival. For Eile, his father then was a burden from which he wants to get rid of. “Don’t let me find him! If only I could get rid of this dead weight, so that I could use all my strength to struggle for my own survival, and only worry about myself.” (Wiesel 101)
There is a very faint line exists between rationalism or practicalism and selfishness. The novel ends with a very apt phrase “Survival of the fittest.” While fighting against all adversaries, man first has to think about himself. The old beliefs morals shatter in the changing mode of circumstances. The novel depicts the disillusionment of the relationship. One more thing I appealed in the novel is that when the beliefs in God shatter, man remains motionless. He denies his moral responsibilities.
Davis S.T. Encountering Evil: Live Options in Theodicy,” Published by Westminister Jon Knox Press (2001) p. 7
Wiesel E. “Night”