by Elie Wiesel
Night Family Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"Silence over there!" barked the officer.
"Eliezer," continued my father, "water …"
The officer came closer and shouted to him to be silent. But my father did not hear. He continued to call me. The officer wielded his club and dealt him a violent blow to the head.
I didn’t move. I was afraid, my body was afraid of another blow, this time to my head.
My father groaned once more, I heard:
I could see that he was still breathing—in gasps. I didn’t move.
When I came down from my bunk after roll call, I could see his lips trembling; he was murmuring something. I remained more than an hour leaning over him, looking at him, etching his bloody, broken face into my mind.
Then I had to go to sleep. I climbed into my bunk, above my father, who was still alive. The date was January 28, 1945. (8.94-102)
For Eliezer, his self-preservation instinct prevents him from attempting to protect his dying father. Despite this, Eliezer’s father’s last words are to call out Eliezer’s name, indicating perhaps that the most important thing in his father’s life and death is family.
I woke up at dawn on January 29. On my father’s cot there lay another sick person. They must have taken him away before daybreak and taken him to the crematorium. Perhaps he was still breathing …
No prayers were said over his tomb. No candle lit in his memory. His last word had been my name. He had called out to me and I had not answered.
I did not week, and it pained me that I could not weep. But I was out of tears. And deep inside me, if I could have searched the recesses of my feeble conscience, I might have found something like: Free at last! … (8.103-105)
The extreme situation that Eliezer is enduring has stripped him of much of his humanity and feelings of familial care. For Eliezer, it is horrifying but liberating to be free at last from the burden of keeping his father alive. Eliezer is now free to think only of himself and his own survival.