Role Reversal in Night
The book Night by Elie Wiesel is about the experience of Elie and his father in a concentration camp during the Holocaust. The separation between his sisters and mother is the beginning of a new relationship Elie and his father form. The occurrences in the camp change Elie and his fathers’ relationship. Slowly as time passes the father son role switches. Elie’s relationship with his father changes drastically throughout the book.

When Elie and his father arrive at the concentration camps, Elie is dependent on his father. He looks to his father for support in the beginning at the camps. This dependency was clear when during his separation from the rest of his family he held on to his fathers’ hand. As Elie and his father await their fate at the first camp Elie does not want to be separated from his father. He displays this need through his actions, “My hand tightened its grip on my father. All I could think of was not to lose him. Not to remain alone” (3). Kelly Winters says, when referring to the need of Elie’s having to be near his father. “He clings to his father, contriving to stay close to him in the camps; this closeness is his sole source of reassurance and safety although he knows it is precious”
(275). Also, Elie depended on his father for guidance. When SS officers are looking for strong men Elie thinks maybe they should appear strong, but his father doesn’t. Elie does as his father thinks, and doesn’t draw attention to himself. Furthermore, Elie won’t do something for himself without the reassurance that his father will be with him. He is afraid of being apart from him, still depending on him. “I want to stay with my father”
(48), he says to someone who wants his shoes in exchange for a good Kommando. Also,
Elie clings to his father refusing to part from him like a dependent child, just as his father stays near him being Elie’s wall to lean on. Sanderson reflects, “Father and son often walk together holding hands in the camps, afraid that they will be separated” (277). Elie is dependent on his father as a child would be .
As time in the concentration camps goes on Elie and his father develop a peer-like relationship. Elie acts as a friend for his father during selection, when his father is chosen.
Elie creates a diversion by running into the crowd. It brings about enough commotion that his father and others can switch lines. Another way, Elie looks out for his father is when he says, “Father! Father! Wake up. They’re going to throw you outside” (99). Elie slaps him until he wakes up, to show that he is in fact alive. Also, Elie and his father make an agreement. With Elie and his father both needing rest, and not wanting to succumb to death themselves, Fine says, “They exchange vows of protection, which bind them together in revolt against the death that is silently transforming their sleeping comrades into stiffened corpses” (100). Elie says, “We’ll take turns. I’ll watch over you and you’ll watch over me. We won’t let each other fall asleep. We’ll look after each other” (89). They both need to rest, but don’t want to risk death. In addition, Elie’s father saves him. When a man comes out of no where and starts strangling Elie, he runs for help. His father isn’t able to get the man off, but finds someone who can. Elie and his father did favors for each other, by looking out for one another.
Towards the end at the concentration camp, Elie begins to take on the role of the father. As a result of this new role Elie has taken on he must act more mature, “Eliezer must act as if he is man in such scenes to help himself and his father survive” (Winters 178). Sanderson also remarks about Elie’s complete flip from child to adult. “Eliezer’s more toward the faux adulthood he will reach in camps becomes almost a comic image of how a man, as opposed to a boy, might act” (178). Elie’s role has clearly changed. Elie’s father slowly starts depending on him more. When his father grows tired he says, “I can’t go on. My son...Take me back to my bunk” (109). His father is acting like a child would needing his/her father to take them to bed, after it’s passed their bed time. Also, Elie has taken on the fatherly role by becoming responsible for his father. He needs to make sure he has done simple things, such as when he asks him, “Did you eat?” (107) Furthermore, Elie’s father needs him to get things for him, like a child needing their parent to get their food and cut it up for them. His father says, “Eliezar, my son…bring me…a little coffee…” (106). Elie’s father can’t even stand in line for something he wants so much. Another way Elie plays the part of a father is when his father gets sick with dysentery. Elie carries him to the doctor, his father being too week and sick to do so himself. Elie’s father has become dependent on him as a child depends on their father.
Elie’s relationship with his father changes drastically throughout the book. At first Elie is dependent on his father, then gradually the relationship becomes that of peers, until finally completely reverses and Elie is the caretaker. The reversal in roles between Elie and his father shows the extreme changes Elie and his father go through during the camps.


Reflections on essay:
What did I learn from this writing assignment?
Doing this writing assignment I learned how to integrate quotes properly.
What did I do well in this unit?
I think I did a good job integrating the primary and secondary sources.
What areas could I improve on?
I think I could have stayed more focused on the peer-like relationship between Elie and his father.