Night by Elie Wiesel Chapter 8 Summary

Instructor: Melissa Iturralde

Melissa is an elementary/middle school teacher and has a master's degree in educational leadership.

In this lesson, you will learn about Chapter 8 of ''Night'' by Elie Wiesel. We'll summarize and discuss the major events from the chapter to find out what happens to Elie and his father in this lesson.

Introduction to Chapter 8 of Night

In Chapter 8 of Night by Elie Wiesel, Elie becomes the primary caretaker of his father. The treacherous journey from Buna to Buchenwald really put a lot of strain on his father's body, mind and spirit. Elie feels tremendous guilt for wishing for his father's death so he can take care of himself. He is ashamed of himself for thinking about his father as a burden. Elie is able to refocus during these times of frustration, and he continues to care for his father until his last days.

Elie's Father Wants to Give Up

When the remaining twelve prisoners arrive from Buna to Buchenwald in a cattle car, they are counted and sent to shower. The survivors can barely move their weak bodies after being starved to near death in horrid, cold conditions for ten days. Elie's father wants to give up his fight to live and asks Elie to let him lie in the snow to die. This maddens Elie because he cannot understand how his father can give up now after fighting for so long. Sirens direct all of the prisoners back to the barracks. They rest for the night.

The next morning, Elie searches for his father. The fact that he has to search for his father annoys him. He sees his father as a burden at this point, and fights to remain loyal to him. He eventually spots his father waiting in line for hot coffee to stay warm, and Elie reunites with him.

Dysentery Weakens Elie's Father

Elie's father is fatally ill with dysentery, an infectious disease that attacks the intestines and causes bloody and loose bowel movements. Guards refuse to feed the sick, which means Elie's father is deprived of critical nourishment and care. Because of this, Elie reluctantly shares his soup with his father to provide him some comfort.

As each day passes, Elie's father becomes weaker and weaker. He comes down with a fever and stays in his bunk. The fever makes him incoherent, so his speech does not make sense. Doctors refuse to see him because they see him as a lost cause, but eventually a doctor makes his way over to him for a check-up. When Elie's father can't stand up on his own for the exam, the doctor yells at him and calls him lazy.

Survivors in bunks in Buchenwald after liberation, 1945
Survivors in bunks in Buchenwald after liberation, 1945

Elie finds out that their bunkmates are hitting his father and stealing his bread. Elie tries to make peace by offering bread and soup to the attackers, but they refuse to bargain because his dad doesn't go outside to go to the bathroom. His father physically cannot get out of his bunk, forcing him to relieve himself in his bed. This disgusts the bunkmates, and they want him gone.

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