In the short story “The Night,” Elie Wiesel explores that how father and son ruin their relationship in the period of the anti-Semitism. They lose their appearance, lovely life and wealth for being Jews. Elie and his family, as well as numerous other families, were kidnapped from their homes by the German Nazis and were forced to work in concentration camps because of their Jewish heritage. The Jews were required to work day and night and were treated like animals. Elie and his father were separated from his mother and sister, whom Elie would never see again.
Although Elie and his father managed to get along in the concentration camps, not all sons got along with the fathers. The fathers in the story were usually the more caring ones. The sons, on the other hand, were the ones that abused and neglected their fathers. The sons may have acted this cruelly and vicious towards their fathers because of the severe treatments they had received from the Germans, to separate themselves from nuisances, and their awareness of the necessity for their own survival.
While in the German concentration camps, the Jews had an immense amount of hard punishment put on prisoners for no apparent reason. Soon, the hearts of the people in the concentration camps were hardened. When Elie witnessed a hanging, he no longer cared about who had died, and neither did the other people. “I watched other hangings. I never saw a single one victim weep. These withered bodies had long forgotten the bitter taste of tears” (63). The people of the concentration camps did not care much anymore about death nor anything. This was also true in the children.
One example of a child acting differently due to the suffering that was put upon him was when Elie’s father had just been struck before him, and Elie did not feel any sympathy or any emotion towards his father; “My father had just been struck, in front of me, and I had not even blinked. I had watched and kept silent. Only yesterday, I should have dug my nails into the criminal’s flash” (39). Elie had gone through some bad experiences in the concentration camps, and those experiences toughened Elie’s personality. What might have stricken Elie with rage just a few days ago, Elie could not even show any emotion now.
The concentration camps were one reason why son and father relationships were alienated. The fathers in the story were usually older people, and as the suffering in the concentration camps increased, the fathers soon became weaker. When Elie and his father were on the train ride to the concentration camp, his father was very tired, and the officers and commanded that all dead to be thrown aside. “Father! Father! Wake up. They’re going to throw you out-side” (99). The father, in the story could hardly support much anymore, and relied much on the other people, and for the most part, they relied on their children.
This soon proved to be a nuisance for their sons. They did not want to support their weak and aging fathers because with the time that was consumed with helping their fathers, they could have been doing something else. A good example of a son disassociating himself with his father because of the annoyance the father presented was when Rabbi Eliahou’s son abandoned the Rabbi. While the Rabbi and his son were running to a camp, the Rabbi started loosing ground, and after seeing this, his son did not stop nor slow down. “A terrible thought crossed my mind: What if he had wanted to be rid of his father?
He had felt his father growing weaker, and believing that the end was near, had thought by to free himself of a burden that could diminish his own chance for survival” (91). The son thought that his father was growing weak, and he realized if he kept in contact with his father, the Rabbi would just be a hassle for the son, so he sought separation. This was another reason why a son would act so harshly towards his father. In Night, the characters were basically on their own, and they had to do what they needed to survive. This might mean that they had to hurt and kill other people for their own survival.
This also includes sons and fathers. While Elie was on a train and passing through a village, some people in the train were throwing food into the starving village. This caused a massive riot among the people to get food which was so scarce. He saw a man try to sneak out with some bread, but his son jumped on him. “Meir, my little Meir! Don’t you recognize me… You’re killing your father… I have bread… for you too… for you too… ” (101). The son was trying to snatch the bread out of the father’s hand, and while in the process, he killed his own father. Relations between fathers and sons had been cut.
The son had become independent men, and their father’s were only obstacles in the path of their survival. In the story, Night, there were many examples of sons acting very harshly and sometimes even violently towards their fathers. The sons do not treat their fathers as caregivers anymore, for the fathers do not have any more power than the sons do. To the sons, the fathers are now just regular strangers that hold them back. This is a good example of human nature, and one person goes through many trails and tribulations, they start to disconnect themselves from everything besides themselves.