Everyone usually called him Elie, but his given name was Eliezer Wiesel, as a boy growing up in the Hungarian Transylvanian town of Sighet he studied the Torah and the Cabbala under the guidance of Moshe the Beadle. That life ended when the Nazis arrived. First, it was Moshe they took away. When he returned, everyone chose to believe him mad rather than place credence in his tales of Gestapo violence. Reality soon proved them wrong. First, it was the ghettos, then the train and the concentration camp. In the camp the Nazis separated men like his father and teenaged boys like him from women and girls so he lost his mother and sister at the camp early on. Eliezer and his father manage to stay close and support each other early on by sharing rations and looking out for each other. Brutal reality intervenes and changes their relationship bringing out Ellie’s self preservation instincts at the cost of taking care of his father the way he thinks he should. As he becomes more concerned with avoiding the brutality find food he expects his father to do the same for himself without support from him.
In the labor camps there are the selections, those who can work can live; any one who cannot work is executed. At one point Elie is one still strong enough to work. His father is selected as one who is not, passes on his only inheritance to his son - a cup and a spoon. As the winter freezes hope the war limps on as the Nazis are slowly beaten back. Driven by advancing troops to Buchenwald Elie summons the will to go in by running beside his father. When they reach the concentration camp Elie abandons his father during an air raid, finds him by accident, and cares for him sporadically, resentfully wondering if the care he give is fatally lowering his own chances of survival and the head of the block finally tells him it is. His father dies after a beating from a SS officer. When Eliezer hears of it much to his shame he has no tears, only a feeling of relief.
As a young boy in Sighet, Transylvania Wiesel was passionate about his religious faith. Before the war and interment, he studied his faith deeply and explored its mysteries. His world was good and that was demonstrative of God’s goodness. Elie’s faith then was absolute as deeply rooted in his soul as breathing. In the concentration camp he sees the cruelty that God only responds to with silence. When the Gestapo hangs a young boy Elie screams out “Where is God?” and the response is silence. Although his faith was never extinguished during his time in the camps, it does change and evolve as his devotion is shaken. He sees how others like Akiba Drummer lose their will to survive along with their faith. Like his devotion to his father, his devotion to his God helps him survive the Holocaust and the concentration camps. He runs because his father is there. He questions God, but in that questioning, he renews his faith. He sees the cruelty that God only responds to with silence. When the Gestapo hangs a young boy Elie screams out “Where is God?” and the response is silence. His experience leaves his faith shaken to the core, forever changed, but still alive.
Spark Notes. "Night." 2013. Spark Notes. 7 6 2013 <http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/night/context.html>.