The ground is frozen, parents sob over their children, stomachs growl, stiff bodies huddle together to stay slightly warm. This was a recurrent scene during World War II. Night is a literary memoir of Elie Wiesel’s tenure in the Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust. Elie Wiesel created a character reminiscent of himself with Eliezer. Eliezer experienced cruelty, stress, fear, and inhumanity at a very young age, fifteen. Through this, he struggled to maintain his Jewish faith, survive with his father, and endure the hardships placed on his body and mind.
At the beginning of the book, Eliezer was in the higher levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This hierarchy starts at the bottom with physiological needs, and progresses upwards with safety needs, belonging and love, esteem, and finally self-actualization. Eliezer was working with his love and belonging needs with respect to his religion. He was obsessed with the Jewish scripture. He wanted to learn. He was an extremely intellectual teenager. He would study the Jewish scripture with Moche the Beadle. "We would read together, ten times over, the same page of the Zohar. Not to learn it by hear, but to extract the divine essence from it." His views on the divinity of God do not endure through the Holocaust and the concentration camps.
When Eliezer and his father, Chlomo, arrived at their first concentration camp, Eliezer was in an emotional agony. He considers running to the electrical wire to escape the "slow agony in the flames." His father replies by weeping and reciting the prayer of the dead. "May His Name be blessed and magnified" This tests Eliezer’s faith for the first time. "Why should I bless His name...what had I to thank Him for," he said. Eliezer was frustrated with the pain that his people, the Jews, were enduring. Why was God not preventing it? The first month of camp life took a heavy toll on Eliezer. “Some talked of God, of his mysterious way, of the sins of the
Jewish people and of their future deliverance. But I had ceased to pray…I did not deny God’s existence, but I doubted His absolute justice.” He changed from extreme piousness to denial. This was only the beginning of his change in faith.
After the Nazis sentenced a young pipel, or child, to hang on the gallows, Eliezer was not the only one to question God. “Where is God? Where is He?” they asked. When the child was hanged, he swung for a half an hour, blue in the face, slowly dying in front of a thousand spectators. “’Where is God now?’ … I heard a voice within me answer, ‘Where is He? He is—He is hanging here on the gallows.” Eliezer was appalled at the cruelty of the Nazi forces; this event probably stripped him of the most innocence. In a “celebration” of the Jewish New Year, Elie angrily thinks,
What are you, my God, compared to this afflicted crown, proclaiming to you their faith, their anger, and their revolt? What does your greatness mean, Lord of the...