There are many themes in the novel Night, by Elie Wiesel; some of these include loss of faith, father-son relationships, food and hunger, and disbelief. One of the most interesting theme is the father-son relationship. This theme can be seen throughout the novel with many fathers and sons. Elie has a very strong relationship with his father. His main reason for not giving up in the camps is so his father is not alone. Some kinships are not like Elie¹s and his father¹s. One son purposely loses his father so that he does not burden him and another son beats and kills his own father just for food. Father and son relationships can be seen in many parts in Night and takes a very large roll in the novel.
One of the relationships between fathers and sons that demonstrate the compassion for one another, not cruelty, is the relationship between Elie and his father. During the march to Gleiwitz, Elie thinks he can no longer go on with this horrible ordeal but decides he will keep on going for his father. Elie¹s inspiration during the endless march is his father. My father¹s presence was the only thing that stopped meŠHe was running at my side, out of breath, at the end of his strength, at his wit¹s end. I had no right to let myself die. What would he do without me? I was his only support (82). Their relationship is so strong that is actually gives Elie a reason to keep on living through this novel.
Some relationships are not as pleasant as Elie¹s with his father. Elie talks about a son and his father, a Rabbi, who intentionally loses his father during the march to Gleiwitz. A terrible thought loomed up in my mind: he had wanted to get rid of his father! He had felt that his father was growing weak, he had believed that the end was near and had sought this separation in order to get rid of the burden, to free himself from an encumbrance which could lessen his own chances of survival (87). When Elie realizes what has happened between the Rabbi and his son, it is very disturbing to him and he prays for strength that he never does this to his father. In these camps, survival was so difficult that it is not unusual for people to become self-centered.
During the train ride to Buchenwald a very disturbing situation happens between a father and son. Workmen were throwing pieces of bread inside the wagons just to see the prisoners fight over the food. While they are doing this, an old man comes across a piece of bread and sneaks away from the mob of people, but the man does not go unnoticed. Someone threw himself on top of the old man and begins to hit him for the bread. While this is happening, the old man screams out Meir. Meir, my boy! Don¹t you recognize me? I¹m your fatherŠyou¹re hurting meŠyou¹re killing your father! I¹ve got some breadŠfor you tooŠfor you tooŠ (97). The other person killed his own father just for some food that his father was going to give him anyway. During the Holocaust, food was so scarce that a son would kill his own father just for some more food.
The relationship between fathers and sons is a very important theme in Night. It can be the inspiration for survival but for others, survival for themselves costs them their relationship. This theme shows how cruel human beings can be. With the son beating and killing his own father, or the son abandoning his father so that he does not have to deal with him anymore. This theme can also show the beauty of the relationship, with Elie¹s father being the reason Elie keeps on marching on their way to Gleiwitz. The Holocaust can change the way people are, very dramatically, making them very cruel and selfish.