While reading this novel, one part really stood out for me. On page 112, after Elie’s father had died, Elie “did not weep, and it pained me that I could not weep. But I was out of tears. And deep inside me, if I could have searched the recesses of my feeble conscience, I might have found something like: Free at last!”
Throughout the majority of the novel, both the son and father worked so hard and did their best to stay together. Elie constantly felt nervous about separating from his father and both felt relief when they were reunited. The two characters had a close bond as they only had one another in the concentration camps. But at the death of the father, Elie’s response to it is the exact opposite of what Elie from the beginning of the story would have expressed. He was glad that his father died because now he could just take care of himself. Elie ended up only thinking of himself and becoming like the pastor’s son, who was mentioned earlier in the novel and seemed to ditch his father behind, the exact type of selfish portrayal that Elie did not want to portray.
The author, Elie Wiesel, seems to be arguing that humans naturally are incredibly selfish beings. They may mask it with morals, laws, development of importance of relations and such forth. However, once those exact things are taken away, human become desperate and when they become desperate, only their world starts to matter.
This side of humanity cannot be denied. It is such a part of us, our sole desire to live. Our selfish desire to live, even if it means stepping down on others or even killing them. In short, Elie argues that humans… are just simply selfish.
There is a mindset imprinted in everyone’s mind that in the end, only oneself matters. To fulfill one’s own needs is the means of survival. Morals cannot place bread in your belly. Laws cannot quench your thirst. Relationships cannot dispel the presence of death when they are in the same situation. The thought “Why should I help another when I myself is barely alive?” consumes the mind that it becomes the truth.
This is was the truth of Elie when he was placed in extreme conditions. This was simply the truth of humanity. Humans are selfish. This side of mankind will never disappear and the author strongly argues this point through the portrayals of human actions that appear in the novel. He argues against the illusions of a “good citizen” or a “good person”. No one can be good. Not when such a dark side lurks within them that will never disappear.
-The Diamonds ♦