In the hospital, a fellow patient says that Hitler will annihilate the Jews.When Wiesel objects, the patient responds that Hitler is “the only one who’s kept his promises, all his promises, to...

In the hospital, a fellow patient says that Hitler will annihilate the Jews.

When Wiesel objects, the patient responds that Hitler is “the only one who’s kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people.”  What did he mean by that?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This particular reference highlights a critical theme of Wiesel's work.  The presence and nature of God is one that receives an extreme amount of analysis throughout the work.  Our first exposure to Eliezer is one of a spiritual young man who has been taught to revere the power of a God that has occupied a position of power and authority in the Judaic faith.  Where the anti- Bildungsroman advances is that the longer Eliezer lives through his ordeal, the greater the gap in his faith and belief in God's absolution.  When the patient says that Hitler is the only one who "kept his promises," it is a direct statement on how God has either abandoned the Jewish individuals who were victim to the Holocaust or how God lied about the chosen status of those who follow the Judaic faith.  Wiesel's examination of the relationship between Jewish people and their God is a philosophically powerful element of the text because it compels an examination of the implications of the Holocaust.  How can one reconcile a faith in God while watching the burning of babies?  How can someone profess to believe in the presence of a benevolent God while seeing a young six year old boy hung, and having to writhe in pain for 30 minutes before his body succumbs to the noose?  How can there be a belief in salvation when someone is shot for an extra bowl of soup or subject to genetic experiments that are a euphemism for torture?  Eliezer's narrative seeks to explore the contradiction between suffering and faith.  The quotation of the patient is a part of this exploration.