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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES FOR NIGHT BY ELIE WIESEL
When they are unloaded from the train, the prisoners are ordered to form ranks of five and march ahead. Elie tries to hold his father's hand, not wanting to lose him in his weakened condition. Along the way, he encourages Wiesel, saying if he can endure a bit more, he will soon be able to sleep. His father, however, is too tired to continue marching and collapses along the way. Elie, not seeing where he falls, searches for his father amongst the dead bodies. When he finds him, Elie shouts at him and begs him to get up. For a moment, however, Elie secretly wishes the old man would die; he is tired of the old man's burden.
Elie finally manages to get his sick father to Buchenwald, but his condition worsens, for he suffers from dysentery. Elie does not leave his side, but tries to care for him and make him comfortable. He tries to get a doctor to treat his father, but he refuses to treat a case of dysentery.
When Wiesel pleads for water, an SS officer hits him hard on the head, cracking his skull. Although he is still breathing, he is on the verge of death. Elie watches over him, but falls asleep from exhaustion. When he awakes the next morning, January 29, 1945, his father is missing; his bed is occupied by another invalid. Elie knows that his father has been taken to the crematorium; he fears that the old man was still breathing when he was thrown into the fire. Elie is too exhausted, physically and emotionally, to even weep for the loss of his father.
In this section, Elie is so driven by his desire to survive and so overwhelmed by the pangs of hunger and exhaustion that he is almost devoid of emotion. When he boards the train to march towards Buchenwald, he tries to hold his sick father's hand and encourage him to move forward. Mr. Wiesel, however, is too weakened to continue and falls amongst some dead bodies. When Elie looks for him, he momentarily wishes he could be rid of the old man, who he feels has become a burden. Such a thought is totally uncharacteristic of the kind Elie, who has watched over and protected his father throughout the book; it is obvious that the pain of his experiences in the concentration camp have colored his thinking.
Elie is much too principled to consider leaving his father behind. When he finds him, he helps him get to Buchenwald. Then he seeks out a doctor, who refuses to see or treat Wiesel because he has dysentery. Elie is left to care for his father alone. When his father pleads for water, Elie feels terrible that he cannot provide it. When his father continues to shout for water, a guard callously hits him on the head, cracking his skull. By some miracle, Wiesel continues to breathe, even though it is obvious that he is on the verge of death.
When nighttime comes, Elie falls asleep, even though he did not intend to. When he awakes at daylight, he finds that his father is gone and feels terribly guilty that he did not stay awake to attend to him until the very end. Elie also fears that his father may have been taken to the crematorium and thrown into the fire while he was still a live; this thought adds to Elie's sense of guilt.