How does Elie experience internal conflicts?

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amerie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Elie has two central internal conflicts: one is with God, and the other is with his father. At the beginning of Night, Elie is seriously studying the Talmud, putting specific focus on the mysticism of the Jewish faith. Elie's father is not only a devout Jew, he is a person to whom people come for advice. Elie's faith is not only a comfort to him, it connects him with not only his father, but the people of his community. He takes tremendous pride in his studies, which is why the horror of seeing his fellow Jews being systematically exterminated by the Nazis makes him question the very existence of God. He cannot understand why God would let such atrocities happen to the Bible's chosen people. This crisis hits Elie particularly hard when he sees the young blond "angel" hanged in the concentration camp.

The other conflict is with his father. While Elie loves his father unconditionally, the situations at the concentration camps become overwhelming for him. Once his father gets weak, Elie tries very hard to help him survive, but the task becomes too hard.  The internal conflict comes to a head when he sees his father being beaten, and Elie feels nothing but anger that his father can't march according to orders. The ultimate crisis is when Elie is thinking that it would be better if his father died, so Elie wouldn't have to worry about him anymore.

mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Night, Elie's biggest internal conflict is the way he feels about his father and God. He struggles with these two issues more than any others. Yes, Elie hates the Nazis for what they have done, but Elie is beginning to hate his own father, as well. 

When Elie first arrives at Auschwitz, his main concern is staying with his father and making sure his father stays safe. The longer they are held prisoners, the more resentful Elie is becoming of his father. He feels like his father is getting weaker, therefore increasing the chances for them to be called out. When his father lays dying, Elie is struggling with the fact that he feels almost relief. He thinks that he will have more food when his father dies, and when his father gets beat, Elie even thinks about hitting him, as well. This internal conflict stays with Elie for a long time.

Elie's faith in God is the biggest internal conflict. Elie believes that God has abandoned him and the rest of the Jews and has turned His back on all of them. He questions how a loving God can let all these horrible things happen. He struggles daily with the thought that God has left him on his own. It takes Elie many years to come back to his faith, but that is the true nature of faith. God was right there waiting for him when he came back.

kschweiz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Elie's internal conflict shifts in an interesting, unexpected way. Initially his hatred is for the Nazis and this fuels him in a sense. However, after some time in the camp, as his father grows weaker, Elie begins to turn his anger toward him, and his weakness. He states that once, after his father is beaten by a Kapo, that Elie himself had wanted to hit him. When his father began to die, Elie began to wish for the end, and felt relief when it was over. This caused greater conflict within him, as he felt guilty for wishing his father dead and hating him for becoming ill and weak.