Night by Elie Wiesel Term Paper
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Elie Weisel's Night: Contrasting Elie And His Father
In Elie Weisel's autobiographical book Night (1960), an account of how Elie and his entire family were taken by the Nazis to concentration camps during World War II, Elie emerges as a much different person from his father. Elie's father is a leader of his community before the Holocaust, and as such, he often seems more concerned about his community than even his family or himself. Elie, on the other hand, is more of a pragmatist, especially as the story progresses, and Elie, along with his father, must survive Auschwitz together, and then the Death March to Buchenwald. (Elie's father survives the death march, just barely, but then dies shortly after they reach Buchenwald). In this essay, I will compare and contrast Elie and his father, as Elie Weisel describes them both within Night.
Early in Night, Elie Weisel, who is an adolescent at the time the story takes place, describes his father in the following way:
My father was a cultured, rather unsentimental man. There was never any display of emotion, even at home. He was more concerned with others than with his own family. The Jewish community in Sighet held him in the greatest esteem. They often used to consult him about public matters and even about private ones. (Night, p....
...As Weisel recalls: "I was twelve. I believed profoundly. During the day I studied the Talmud, and at night I ran to the synagogue to weep over the destruction of the Temple" (p. 1).
As the story opens, all Elie has on his mind is his own fascination with the cabbala, and how he might be able to study it sooner than he should, according to Jewish law. Soon, however, that changes, as the Nazis threaten his family and their community of Sighet. The first warning sign is when all the foreign Jews of the community are deported, including Moshe the Beadle. When Moshe escapes, miraculously, he returns to Sighet to warn others, but is ignored. At this point in the story, it seems Elie and his father are very much alike. As Weisel recalls:
. . . we, the Jews of Sighet, were waiting for better days, which would not be long in coming now.
I continued to devote myself to my studies. By day, the Talmud, at night,
The cabbala. My father was occupied with his business and the doings of the community. (p. 5)
Then, in spring 1944, clear signs of serious trouble for Jews begin to occur. Hungary turns fascist. News comes of more deportations. As Weisel recalls, of this period: "At that time, it was still possible to obtain emigration permits for Palestine. I had asked my father to sell out, liquidate his business, and leave.
"I'm too old, my son, '" he replied. (p. 6)
This is the first sign of a differe4nce in the personalities of Elie and his father. Elie, being younger, is more forward-looking, and perhaps, even then, more realistic and practical as…
Sources Used in Documents:
Weisel, Elie. Night. New York: Bantam, 1982.
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