by Elie Wiesel
Night Family Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
I tightened my grip on my father's hand. The old, familiar fear: not to lose him.
I could have screamed in anger. To have lived and endured so much; was I going to let my father die now? Now that we would be able to take a good hot shower and lie down?
This discussion continued for some time. I knew that I was no longer arguing with him but with Death itself, with Death that he had already chosen. (8.3-23)
At the new camp, Eliezer still tries to cling to his father. They have been through so much; losing his father is still his greatest fear. When his father starts to die, he struggles to keep his father alive because of his desire not to lose the last remaining member of his family and the only thing that preserves his own will to live.
I went to look for him.
Yet at the same time a thought crept into my mind: If only I didn’t find him! If only I were relieved of this responsibility, I could use all my strength to fight for my own survival, to take care only of myself … Instantly, I felt ashamed of myself forever. (8.26-8.27)
In the world of the concentration camps, Eliezer struggles to maintain his humanity; Eliezer realizes that he sees his father as a burden that might get in the way of his own personal survival but attempts to banish these inhumane thoughts and feels genuine guilt.
"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 cannot 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 …"
I listened to him without interrupting. 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. I ran to get some soup and brought it to my father. (8.86-88)
A fellow prisoner points out that in the concentration camp, it’s every man for himself. Selfishness, not altruism, keeps people alive in concentration camps. Eliezer suffers an internal battle of selfishness vs. love for his father, and despite the harsh circumstances, Eliezer’s better side wins out.