In "Night," what is meant by Elie's proclamation, "Never shall I forget these flames which consumed my faith forever."

Expert Answers
Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Elie is referring to seeing his fellow Jews consumed by the flames of the ovens in the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Buchenwald.  Man's ability to be so cruel to his fellow man forever scarred the young author's ability to believe in the goodness of mankind.  The entire passage reads:

"Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky.

Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever.

Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never."

The number seven, referenced several times here, is traditionally associated with heaven and all that is good.  It is significant, therefore, that Elie feels "seven times cursed and seven times sealed." The loss of Elie's faith is as painful, and as real, as the loss of his fellow man. Both experiences will scar him for life.