The Holocaust’s Destruction
Relationship, it means two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected. The story Night by Elie Wiesel is an autobiography about a young boy named Elie and his father surviving the holocaust. Elie has a exclusive relationship with both his father and god that change throughout the story, but they change differently .The rocky relationship with his father has events that that go from being inseparable in Birkenau, to feeling as though he is a burden, but with god he struggles with his faith as his time in the camps worsen, but towards the beginning his devotion with God was strong..
Before Elie and his father got sent to camp, their relationship was distant while his relationship with God was one of devotion. As it was described in the first pages of the story, Elie wanted the audience to know what the relationship was like before the camps: “ My father was a cultured man, rather unsentimental. He rarely displayed his feelings, not even with his own family, and was more involved with the welfare of others than that of his own kin” (Wiesel 4). Many children in this time period often felt as though their parents were not able to provide emotional support. Elie clearly felt this, and did not appear to have a particularly strong bond with his father. Instead, he felt devoted and connected to God. Elie wished to spend his life focused around Judaism and devoted all his free time and energy on religious studies. With Moishe’s guidance, they would read the same pages of the Zohar over and over. At one point Elie states, “ Moishe the Beadle , the poorest of the poor of Sighet, spoke to me for hours on end about Kabbalah’s revelations and its mysteries. Thus began my initiation. Together we would read, over and over again, the same page of Zohar. Not to learn it by heart but to discover within the very essence of divinity” (Weisel 15). Elie believed that religion was a basic survival need, showing that he followed his religion instinctively.
As the story moves on, the relationship between Elie and his father and between Elie and God changed dramatically. During Elie’s time in the camp the relationship that he has with his father change very quickly. When Elie and his father arrived at their first concentration camp, in Auschwitz. Elie was very scared and the only person that he knows is his father. “ My hands…(30). From the beginning times in camps Elie and his father find great comfort in the being physically for each other, clearly their bond strengthens. The bond between Elie and his father does strengthen: “”And what if he were dead, as well? He was not moving. Suddenly the evidence overwhelmed me: there is no longer any reason to live, any reason to fight”” (Wiesel 98-99). Elie reveals that he truly depends on his father for survival, because if his father is no longer alive, he loses all hope for survival. It almost seems that his relationship grows with his father almost to the point that up until half way into the story his father basically could replace God in his life. His father is all that he needs to survive and what keeps him going, much like faith does for the people around him. While in the concentration camps. Elie’s devotion towards god dramatically falls. As the first nightmarish night in the concentration camp unfolded, Elie as a person was changed. His beliefs became different and he was no longer able to see the world in the same light, as expressed “”Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed….Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never””(Wiesel 32). Elie redefines the position God holds in his life. Elie sees that the Holocaust highlights the evil and cruelty from everybody. Not only by the Nazis, but from the other prisoners, his fellow Jews, even himself. He feels that if the world is so awful and cruel than God either must be awful and cruel or not exist altogether. “ I no longer accepted God’s silence. As I swallowed my bowl of soup, I saw in the gesture an act of Rebellion and protest against him” (wiesel 76). From this, Elie feels that he is better off alone in a world without God and man.
Near the end of Elie’s time in the concentration camp his relationship with his father gets the turn for the worst. At one point the doctor was trying to explain to Elie that his father is holding him back: “Listen to me, kid. Don’t forget that you are in a concentration camp. In this place, it is every man for himself, and you can not think of others. Not even your father. In this place, there is no such thing as father, brother, friend. Each of us lives and dies alone. Let me give you good advice: stop giving your ration of bread and soup to your old father. You cannot help him anymore. And you are hurting yourself. In fact, you should be getting his rations…’ He was right, I thought deep down, not daring to admit it to myself. Too late to save your old father… You could have two rations of bread, two rations of soup… It was only a fraction of a second, but it left me feeling guilty.” (Wiesel 111). Elie had finally realized that in order to survive he needs to stop taking care of him. He know that his father is going to die anyways, and knows that he shouldn’t waste precious resources on him. The concentration had mentally destroyed him. An example of that was when his father is struck and Elie does nothing to help him, Elie said: “My father had just been struck, in front of me, and I had not even blinked. I had watched and kept silent.” He moves from apathetic to complete contempt for his father in a matter of months to the point where his talk about his father’s death near the end is emotionless: “I woke up at dawn on January 29. On my father’s cot there lay another sick person. They must have taken him away before daybreak and taken him to the crematorium. Perhaps he was still breathing.… No prayers were said over his tomb. No candle lit in his memory. His last word had been my name. He had called out to me and I had not answered. I did not weep, and it pained me that I could not weep. But I was out of tears. And deep inside me, if I could have searched the recesses of my feeble conscience, I might have found something like: Free at last!”( Wiesel 112).
In Night, Wiesel’s relationship with God and his father had and downs, which ultimately changes his views about God and his relationship with his father. Before the concentration camps, Wiesel shows his strong devotion to God, but with his father he did not have a good relationship. but as he personally experiences the Holocaust, Wiesel becomes uncertain of his religious beliefs with god and had a stronger bond towards his father. While Wiesel grows and transforms into a man, he simultaneously redefines God’s position in his life, and with his father he start to realize that he can not live much longer if he is going to continue to take care of his father. With Wiesel, being a author and the main character of the story, surfeits many examples of the mental and physical effects of people in the Holocaust and more specifically for a young boy. For this reason, Night provides a deeper understanding of the Holocaust so that with a better understanding of such a horrific event, history doesn’t repeat itself.
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