In the book Night by Elie Wiesel, it gives a horrifying count of events that Eliezer and his father underwent together with other in a concentration camp during the World War II, the autobiography and of Elie gives the terrible conditions of life in the concentration camps where prisoners of war were dehumanized and their spirits and minds reduced into animals instincts of preservation and basic rules for survival. These conditions as they are vividly described turned everyone including father and son against each other, which led to the reversal of roles. This is what happened in Ellie’s case where his father turned to him for survival.
The book starts by describing the relationship between Ellie and his father as perfect. The son, Eliezer in this case turned to his father for guidance and care as well as providence and protection. When the Jews were concentrated in one large camp Elie’s worry was the possibility of losing his father. His version of himself depicted him as not totally lost with himself if his father is not lost. He could not imagine his survival in a world that required maturity both physical and emotional as well as critical decision making. He depended on his father for everything wholeheartedly. Even during hard manual labour, Eliezer requested the guard to be placed near his father. However this changed abruptly when life took a new dimension.
It became survival for the fittest. Every man was naturally called to look after himself, to learn the basic tips of survival in a cruel environment as God fought for them all. The advancement of difficulty and hard life in the camp derived the two fathers and son to look at each other as equals. They both behaved as peers to each other even more than parent and child. They reduced their relationship to mere interdependency and moral support in the midst of surrounding evil. Their actions were directed towards mutually benefiting relationships.
His experience at the camp hardened him, but he had already seen how sons betrayed their fathers in broad daylight. He tried to maintain this attachment to his father, “Eliezer is horrified by these betrayals and, perhaps sensing his own vulnerability and temptation to betray his own ailing parent, he prays to God to help him not to abandon his father”. This rejuvenation of love between father and son was revived when he decided to keep over each other in turns. The uncovered life in the snow area was fatal especially for his ailing father.
His father was too weak to respond to anything. They reversed the roles and Eliezer decided to keep watch and worry over him, a thing the father used to do. The keeping of guard over the father was rejuvenated by the thought that loosing the father would amount to his loss of the purpose to live. His father grew weaker each hour for dysentery. Throughout this period he would bed rid him and serves him loyally with food and water. He would even give out his bedding for him. This dependency continues until his father succumbed to the illness. Thus the relationship between Eliezer and his father has been an interdependence one. During the start of the book the father takes the chore of parenting for Eliezer; however as the two progresses to life in the concentration camp they reversed roles and Elie looks after his father. The two became creatures focused on survival; however Eliezer never forsook his father.
Estess, Ted L. “The Holocaust Poisoned Eliezer’s Relationships.” Readings on Night. Ed. Wendy Mass. Literary Companion. San Diego: Greenhaven, 2000. 94-97