by Elie Wiesel
Night Family Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
My father was crying. It was the first time I saw him cry. I had never thought it possible. As for my mother, she was walking, her face a mask, without a word, deep in thought. I looked at my little sister, Tzipora, her blond hair neatly combed, her red coat over her arm: a little girl of seven. On her back a bag too heavy for her. She was clenching her teeth; she already knew it was useless to complain. Here and there, the police were lashing out with their clubs. "Faster!" I had no strength left. The journey had just begun and I already felt so weak. (1.159)
As he sets off on his new life, on a journey with an unknown destination, Eliezer is consumed with thoughts about his family – he is concerned about his family’s suffering.
The ghetto was not guarded. One could enter and leave as one pleased. Maria, our former maid, came to see us. Sobbing, she begged us to come with her to her village where she had prepared a safe shelter.
My father wouldn’t hear of it. He told me and my big sisters, "If you wish, go there. I shall stay here with your mother and the little one…"
Naturally, we refused to be separated. (1.170-171)
As they wait to be taken from the little ghetto to wherever the Germans plan to send them, Eliezer and his sisters refuse to leave their parents even though they are offered a safe refuge. Does Eliezer value his family more than personal safety, or he does he not realize the danger he is in?
"Men to the left! Women to the right!"
Eight words spoken quietly, indifferently, without emotion. Eight simple, short words. Yet that was the moment when I left my mother. There was no time to think, and I already I felt my father's hand press against mine: we were alone. In a fraction of a second I could see my mother, my sisters, move to the right. Tzipora was holding Mother's hand. I saw them walking farther and farther away; Mother was stroking my sister's blond hair, as if to protect her. And I walked on with my father, with the men. I didn’t know that this was the moment in time and the place where I was leaving my mother and Tzipora forever. I kept walking, my father holding my hand.
My hand tightened its grip on my father. All I could think of was not to lose him. Not to remain alone.
[…] It was imperative to stay together. (3.4-10)
As the Wiesel family enters Birkenau, Eliezer is separated from his mother and sisters forever – his one thought is not to be separated from his father as well. Here, Eliezer is still looking to his father for protection, rather than the opposite.