Essay About Relationships

Relationships are hard. There is rarely a relationship that goes by easily. Certain relationships can be tougher to navigate than others, especially with those that you know well, and who do you know better than your own parents? Your relationships with your parents can shape your entire life; a good relationship can be quite advantageous; whereas a bad one can be quite harmful. Most sons get along better with their mothers, just like a daughter often gets along better with her father. However, a father-son relationship can be arduous--it quite possibly could be the toughest relationship one will have to manage throughout their lifetime. If one is able to maneuver through this in spite of its toughness, the relationship between a father and son may lead to great circumstances, and the bond can be extremely hard to break. In the memoir, Night, by Elie Wiesel, the relationship between Elie and his father progresses and strengthens as the story proceeds. 

At the beginning of the story, Elie is not attached to his father. While explaining his love for religious work early in his life, Elie informs the reader of his thoughts toward his father by writing, “‘There are no Kabbalists in Sighet,’ my father would often tell me”(Wiesel 4). Elie, at the young age of twelve, wants to be a Kabbalist--someone who studies the Kabbalah, a Jewish translation of the Bible. At Elie’s age, most children have no idea what they want to pursue as an adult, yet Elie is confident that he wants to be religious. His father, however, disagrees with Elie; he opposes Elie, telling him that nobody in Sighet can be a Kabbalist. This in itself indicates a troubled relationship from the beginning, especially because Elie combats this by finding someone to teach him religious work behind his father’s back, “He wanted to drive the idea of studying the Kabbalah from my mind. In vain. I succeeded on my own in finding a master for myself in the person of Moishe the Beadle”(4). Moishe the Beadle was a religious leader in Sighet--“Moishe” was a title, not a name--be that as it may, nobody took him seriously, which is why Elie’s father said there are no Kabbalists. Elie disobeyed his dad, thus causing a strain in their relationship right at the beginning of the story. 

When Elie’s family arrives at Birkenau, however, this changes, and that strain is forgotten; all that mattered was staying together. While talking about his initial selection at the gates of Birkenau, Elie recalls, “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”(29-30). Before Elie and his father were part of this selection, they were strained; Elie disobeyed his father regularly--“I continued to devote myself to my studies, Talmud during the day and Kabbalah at night. My father took care of business and the community”(8). Elie still continued his religious studies while his father worked the business, even though Elie had been told not to. Although this may be true, once they arrived in Birkenau after their already terrible experience during the transportation via cattle car, they knew they had become part of something horrible. Part of the reason they were clued in is the fact that SS officers--Hitler’s private army--were roaming around carrying guns, but they also realized they would have to stay together from the moment they were separated from their family--“I didn’t know this was the moment in time and the place where I was leaving my mother and Tzipora forever”(29). During the selection, women, seniors, and children under the age of fifteen were sent to the crematorium by default, whereas men and children above the age of fifteen were sent to the work camps. Elie’s mother and his baby sister were sent to the crematorium--which they did not know at the time--whilst Elie and his father were sent to work. This instantly strengthened their relationship, as they realized they were alone in the horrible place that was the concentration camp. They also knew their relationship had to be strong if they both wanted to survive. Elie’s father loved Elie so much that at the time, when he believed they were going to the crematorium, he wished that Elie would have gone with his mother. Elie instantly understands, thinking, “His voice was terribly sad. I understood that he did not wish to see what they would do to me. He did not wish to see his only son go up in flames”(33). Arriving at the camp--Birkenau--causes a positive progression and strengthening of their relationship, as compared to the beginning of the story. 

By the same token, towards the end of the story, Elie and his father have gone through so much together that Elie protects and nurtures his father when he is sick, even though he was fighting for his own life. As Elie and his father, accompanied by the other surviving Jewish prisoners, walk into Buchenwald--another concentration camp that they were relocated to--Elie writes, “‘Father,’ I said, ‘just another moment. Soon we’ll able to lie down. You’ll be able to rest…’ He didn’t answer. I myself was so weary that his silence left indifferent. My only wish was to take the shower as soon as possible and lie down on a cot”(104). Elie is extremely tired; up to this point all of the surviving Jewish captives had been forced to run a great distance, and were given insufficient time to rest compared to the amount they really needed--even this rest was given in terrible conditions. They had not taken a shower in ages, and had just been informed that there was a shower in the new camp, as well as proper cots to lie down on. Most people would have simply cared about their own well-being at this point; although this may be true, Elie was not one of these people, and takes care of his father first, thinking, “When I woke up, it was daylight...During the alert, I had followed the mob, not taking care of him. I knew he was running out of strength, close to death, and yet I had abandoned him”(106). Elie’s relationship with his father has progressed to such a stage, and has become so strong, that checking on his father has become the first task he completes when he wakes up, even inside the concentration camp, when his thoughts should be on finding food and other survival necessities. He thinks of his father first instead of checking up on himself, despite being in need of medical assistance himself. 

The Holocaust is considered to be the worst genocide in history. Elie and his father were a direct part of the exterminated side. Going through a decimation like that will be the worst experience of anyone’s life. Elie Wiesel himself once said, “After my father’s death, nothing could touch me anymore.” After his father died, he lost his sense of joy and happiness; he had nothing else to live for other than to tell the story of a Holocaust survivor. No longer would he feel joy, or happiness, in anything, because his father had died. His relationship with his father had become so strong, that when his father was no longer with him, nothing could make him happy again. In the memoir, Night, by Elie Wiesel, the relationship between Elie and his father progressed and strengthened as the story advanced.