Eliezer dexcribes his father as passing him "like a shadow" Explain the significance of the image.

Pg 107 chapter 8. Is is as if his father was dead? Passing him like a shadow could mean he was like a ghost?

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This passage has symbolic significance on several different levels. First, it is unusual that Eliezer completely misrecognizes his father, especially since the father is so weak that it would be nearly impossible for him to run. Eliezer continues to think that the man is his father even after he sees him up close and even after the man is obviously not paying much attention to him. Eliezer has been spending every day with his father and surely knows what he looks like. The incident cannot be just a simple mistake because then Wiesel would not have bothered to record the event in his memoirs. Instead, this moment of misrecognition emphasizes how interchangeable, anonymous, and faceless all the prisoners have become. Their personalities have been destroyed, and when Eliezer looks at this stranger, he may as well be seeing his father.

Second, Eliezer sees this ghostlike apparition just before his father dies. The whole scenario seems very surreal and mystical, and the passage can be read as the ghost of his father preparing to leave the horrors of the concentration camp. The man is running through the camp, with his eyes focused on the world of the afterlife. Eliezer mistakes the man for his father because this is God's way of letting him know that his father will be moving on to a better world.

Third, the passage can be interpreted as having religious significance, and in this case the running man represents God. In the first section of the book, Moché teaches Eliezer that he must learn to ask God the right questions, and this passage can be seen as Eliezer trying to understand the problem of why a just God would allow the concentration camps to exist. Throughout the book, Eliezer has been trying to work this question out in his head, and in this passage it is visually represented by of the unheeding man running and looking off into the distance. Eliezer receives no answer from the man, just as he will probably never understand the answer that God has to give.