Elie Wiesel’s Relationship with God Personal Essay

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“What does your grandeur mean, Master of the Universe, in the face of all this cowardice, this decay, and this misery?”(66 Wiesel). Many Jews often asked this question while suffering through the adverse circumstances of the Nazi concentration camps. Elie Wiesel, the author, and main protagonist, often questioned God, and his reasons behind the suffering while undergoing the tortures of five different concentration camps.

Elie’s memoir, Night, includes information about his personal experiences throughout his journey of the Holocaust concentration camps as a Jew. At the young age of fifteen, Elie, and his family must leave their home and Elie’s life became exceedingly full of hardship and misery. Towards the beginning of the book, Elie’s mother, and sister go to the right, straight to the crematorium, while he and his father go to the left, transforming his life forever.

His view of God becomes the most crucial change he will struggle with throughout the book. Elie Wiesel’s view of God changes throughout the memoir Night and ultimately affects his identity because at the beginning of his memoir his faith remains steady, then he turns his back on God because he thinks God has forsaken him, and then he realizes that his belief never truly and completely left him.

Elie’s faith, in the beginning, remains steady, and strong, his identity rests in God, and he depends deeply on God. In the beginning, Moishe the beadle asks Elie, “Why do you pray?” (4 Wiesel). Elie’s parents abide so strongly in their faith that praying becomes a common part of Elie’s life growing up. When Moishe asks his question Elie thinks, “Why did I pray? Strange question. Why did I live? Why did I breathe?” (4 Wiesel).

Elie can not think of a specific reason why he prays because praying remains to be simply what he does, especially when anxious, because faith played a large part in his life growing up as a young Jewish boy. God as a whole plays a large part in Elie’s life through his childhood and adulthood. Even as he went through the difficulties of being transported to Auschwitz, the first concentration camp, and arriving there, Elie strived to keep his faith intact. When they arrived at Auschwitz and found out they would remain there, they thanked God.

“Confidence soared. Suddenly we felt free of the previous nights’ terror. We gave thanks to God.” (27 Wiesel). Elie thanks God for the little blessings while going through the terrors that Auschwitz has in hold for him. For example, Elie thanks God for the mud protecting his shoes from being taken by the Kapos, “I thanked God, in an improvised prayer, for having created mud in His infinite and wondrous universe.”(Wiesel 38).

In the following chapters of the novel Elie’s identity and view of God become altered because Elie believes God has left and forsaken him. Elie and his fellow Jews go through terrible, torturous ordeals that lead them to the conclusion that God has left them. Some of the older men do not begin to doubt God until later, but Elie, less versed in the ways of God, begins to doubt early on. Elie debates internally on his personal position with God going back and forth, thanking God, then doubting him, then going back to thanking him.

For instance, Elie thanks God for mud, and saving his shoes, but then seven pages later he thinks, “I was not denying his existence, but I doubted His absolute justice.” when talking as they lay on their cots in Auschwitz (Wiesel 45). Since Elie’s identity clings to God, he begins to feel he has no identity, and that he does not matter except caring for his father. Without his father, Elie surely would have died in many different instances. One of the most prominent instances, when he would have died, occurs after the Jews run over 40 miles and they stop at an abandoned village.

Elie becomes extremely tired after the run and lies down almost immediately, but his father, knowing that if he succumbed to sleep he would die, forced Elie to get up, and told him not to sleep. Without his Father helping him throughout his journey Elie would not have survived through the holocaust. After he loses his faith in God, his father becomes the only thing keeping him alive. After his father dies Elie resorts to his animalistic instincts and the only thing he wants is to eat. About two months later, the camp must be dissolved, thousands pass by the exit gates daily.

But, before Eliezer could pass by the gates, armed men stormed the mass evacuation, the SS guards fled and,” At six o’clock that afternoon, the first American tank stood at the gates of Buchenwald.” (Wiesel 115). Elie and his fellow Jews in Buchenwald have been freed! A few days later, Elie looks into a mirror, and thinks, “From the depths of the mirror, a corpse was contemplating me.” (Wiesel 115). This quote shows how Elie realizes how much he has changed throughout his harrowing journey.

Ultimately, Elie’s journey changes his view of God, develops his identity in God, and makes his faith stronger when he realizes that his faith never completely left him. Elie prays to God subconsciously even when he states that he no longer believes in Him, showing the blemishes in his statement. “And in spite of myself, a prayer formed inside me, a prayer to this God in whom I no longer believed.” (Wiesel 91). Elie’s habits of religion from his childhood never left him through his perilous journey. This is proven because, despite what Elie says throughout the book about doubting God and not believing in Him, Elie never fully loses his faith, and he continues to thank God for the little things even in spite of himself.

In conclusion, Elie’s relationship with God ebbed and flowed, which thoroughly changed Elie’s attitude toward God and his identity. Eliezer’s view of God changes throughout the memoir Night and ultimately affects his identity because at the beginning of his memoir his faith remains unshakeable, next his faith in God deteriorates because he feels that God has abandoned him, and then he realizes that his belief never genuinely and totally left him. Elie transforms from a boy into a man in the concentration camps, therefore he experiences his identity in God changing.


Cite this paper

Elie Wiesel’s Relationship with God Personal Essay. (2021, May 28). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/elie-wiesels-relationship-with-god/



How does Elie Wiesel relationship with God change?
Elie Wiesel's relationship with God changes from one of complete faith to complete questioning. Over the course of his time in the concentration camps, Wiesel watch as countless people are killed for no reason, including his own family members. In the face of such atrocity, Wiesel can no longer believe in a God that would allow such things to happen.
What did Elie Wiesel think of God?
Elie Wiesel thought that God was silent during the Holocaust. He also thought that people who believed in God during the Holocaust were foolish.
What is Elie's emotional feeling about God?
Elie's emotional feeling about God is one of confusion and anger. He is confused about why God would allow such horrible things to happen and is angry that He does not seem to be doing anything to stop it.
When did Elie believe in God?
Rosa Parks was called the mother of the civil rights movement because she was the first person to stand up against segregation and she inspired others to do the same.
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