At the beginning of Night, Eliezer is an observant Jewish youngster, hungry to delve more deeply into the mystical traditions of his faith. As the only son of a prominent Jewish businessman in Sighet, Hungary, he followed the others in his community in holding fast to the belief that, despite the "really disquieting news" that "German troops had penetrated Hungarian territory," Sighet would not be affected.
When the Germans create the ghetto and when they begin transporting Jews away from Sighet, Elie comes to grips with the changes in his life, his world, and his faith. As he and his family were relocated to the second ghetto,
I looked at my house in which I had spent years seeking my God, fasting to hasten the coming of the Messiah, imagining what my life would be like later. Yet I felt little sadness. My mind was empty.
As Elie and his father were processed after their arrival at Auschwitz, apparently marching toward the crematorium,
Someone began to recite Kaddish, the prayer for the dead. I don't know whether, during the history of the Jewish people, men have ever before recited Kaddish for themselves..."May His name be celebrated and sanctified..." whispered my father. For the first time, I felt anger rising within me. Why should I sanctify His name? The Almight, the eternal and terrible Master of the Universe, chose to be silent. What was there to thank Him for?
When Elie witnessed his father being beaten by Idek the Kapo, he became aware of another change in his thinking.
If I felt anger at that moment, it was not directed at the Kapo but at my father. Why couldn't he have avoided Idek's wrath? That was what life in a concentration camp had made of me...
Elie moved from being deeply devoted to abandoning all belief in God. He refused to accept that God was deserving of any praise, blessing, or thanks; his faith was destroyed by the horrors he was experiencing.
How could I say to Him: Blessed be Thou, Almighty, Master of the Universe, who chose us among all nations to be tortured day and night, to watch as our fathers, our mothers, our brothers end up in the furnaces? Praised by Thy Holy Name, for having chosen us to be slaughtered on Thine altar?...My eyes had opened and I was alone, terribly alone in a world without God, without man...I was nothing but ashes now, but I felt myself to be stronger than this Almight to whom my life had been bound for so long.