by Elie Wiesel
Night Family Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
My father had huddled near me, draped in his blanket, shoulders laden with snow. And what if he were dead, as well? I called out to him. No response. I would have screamed if I could have. He was not moving.
Suddenly, the evidence overwhelmed me: there was no longer any reason to live, any reason to fight. (7.3-4)
In the moment that Eliezer thinks his father is dead, Eliezer realizes it is only his father’s continuing presence that gives him the will to survive. Like Stein when he realized that his family was gone, Eliezer has no will to live when his father is dead.
There was shouting all around:
"Come on! Here’s another! My neighbor. He’s not moving …"
I woke from my apathy only when two men approached my father. I threw myself on his body. He was cold. I slapped him. I rubbed his hands, crying:
"Father! Father! Wake up. They are going to throw you outside …"
His body remained inert.
The two "gravediggers" had grabbed me by the neck:
"Leave him alone. Can’t you see that he’s already dead?"
"No!" I yelled. "He’s not dead! Not yet!"
And I started to hit him harder and harder. At last, my father half opened his eyes. They were glassy. He was breathing faintly.
"You see," I cried. (7.11-20)
Despite all the of signs that his father is dead, Eliezer (thankfully) doesn’t give up hope, refusing to believe his father is no longer alive, and smacks his dad until he comes to. (It’s OK to hit your dad if it saves his life.)
A piece fell into our wagon. I decided not to move. Anyway, I knew that I would not be strong enough to fight off dozens of violent men! I saw, not far from me, an old man dragging himself on all fours. He had just detached himself from the struggling mob. He was holding one hand to his heart. At first I thought he had received a blow to his chest. Then I understood: he was hiding a piece of bread under his shirt. With lightning speed he pulled it out and put it to his mouth. His eyes lit up, a smile, like a grimace, illuminated his ashen face. And was immediately extinguished. A shadow had lain down beside him. And this shadow threw itself over him. Stunned by the blows, the old man was crying:
"Meir, my little Meir! Don’t you recognize me … You’re killing your father … I have bread … for you too … for you too …"
He collapsed. But his fist was still clutching a small crust. He wanted to raise it to his mouth. But the other threw himself on him. The old man mumbled something, groaned, and died. Nobody cared. His son searched him, took the crust of bread, and began to devour it. He didn’t get far. Two men had been watching him. They jumped him. Others joined in. When they withdrew, there were two dead bodies next to me, the father and the son. (7.30-32)
In the horrible situation that the concentration camps have created, physical needs are elevated above all others and a son kills his father for a piece of bread.