Night

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Night Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
At Buchenwald, Eliezer tries to stay close to his father. Waiting for the showers, people sit and lie down in the snow. Some of them die. Eliezer's father wants to rest, but Eliezer argues with his father, telling him not to. Eliezer feels like he is arguing with death itself.
Eliezer is still fighting for his father's life, but it may now be too late.
Themes
Inhumanity Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Sirens go off and the guards move the prisoners to the blocks. They sleep. When Eliezer wakes, he realizes he went into the blocks without his father. For a moment he hopes he doesn't find his father, that his father is already dead and no longer a burden. It is a feeling he will always be ashamed of.
Eliezer's guilt over these moments of wishing his father has died is an undertone throughout the book—one can see it in the way he pays special attention to the ways sons fail their fathers.
Themes
Inhumanity Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Guilt and Inaction Theme Icon
Eliezer spends hours looking for his father and finally finds him, sick with fever. His father gets sicker. The guards don't want to waste food on sick people, so Eliezer gives his father some of his own food. His father has dysentery. The doctor on duty, a surgeon, can't or won't help.
Despite his sense of guilt, Eliezer makes sacrifices to try to save his father's life.
Themes
Inhumanity Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Guilt and Inaction Theme Icon
Another doctor comes, but this one shouts at the sick and calls them lazy. Eliezer feels the desire to kill this doctor, but has neither the strength or the courage to act. Other invalids begin to beat his father and take his food when Eliezer is away, because his father can't get up to go to the bathroom, and he smells.
There is only so much Eliezer can do, because he doesn't have the ability to stay with his father all day. He is again stuck with feelings of guilt about his powerlessness.
Themes
Inhumanity Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Guilt and Inaction Theme Icon
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A week goes by. The head of the block advises Eliezer not to give his rations to his father. The man tells Eliezer that he can't save his father. Eliezer doesn't listen. He continues to give food to his father, but his father can no longer eat anything. His father wants only water, which Eliezer gives him. Eliezer stays in the invalid block, claiming to be an invalid himself, and takes the bunk above his father's.
This is another risk Eliezer takes—faking an illness in order to stay with his father. Despite everything, even common sense, he never gives up on or abandons his father.
Themes
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Delirious and sick, his father keeps begging for water, even when an SS officer yells at him to be quiet. The officer hits him on the head with a truncheon. Eliezer does not move. His father says his name, "Eliezer," and begins to have trouble breathing. Eliezer stares at his fathers face for an hour to memorize it, bloodied and beaten. It's time for the prisoners to get into bed. When Eliezer wakes up the next day, his father is gone, and a new invalid is in his place. Eliezer is unable to cry.
In the end, Eliezer doesn't know exactly when his father dies. Presumably his father is burned in the furnaces, but Eliezer doesn't know if the Nazi's waited until he was dead, or threw him in while still barely alive, in order to free up another bed. Despite their efforts to keep each other company and alive, Eliezer's father's death is anonymous after all.
Themes
Inhumanity Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon