What are some concepts of God expressed by Ellie Wiesel in Night and Alice Walker in The Color Purple?

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Jessica Akcinar eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Night, seeing such senseless suffering and pain makes Elie Weisel question God and his faith in his religion, and his lack of faith quickly turns into despair. For example, while facing the crematory pit, Elie notes, ``For the first time I felt revolt rise up in me. Why should I bless His name? The Eternal, Lord of the Universe, the All-Powerful and Terrible, was silent. What had I to thank Him for?'' (31). He is then adopts the idea that he was ``alone-terribly alone in a world without God'' (65). In the hospital at Auschwitz, Elie meets a man who says, ``I've got more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He's the only one who's kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people'' (77). This is how Elie is feeling, and no doubt, this is how most of the Jews in the camps are feeling. When the pipel, the angel-faced boy is hanged, someone asks, `` `Where is God now?” and Elie hears a voice within him answer, “Where is He? Here He is-He is hanging here on this gallows'' (62). Elie believes God is dead, just like the pipel, since he is no longer with them and has allowed such atrocities.


In The Color Purple, Celie sees God as her confidant and helper. However, she does not have a concrete understanding of who He really is. Deep down, she feels that her idea of God as a white patriarch “don’t seem quite right,” but she realizes that it’s all she has. Shug asks Celie to envision God as something completely different, as an “it” that rejoices in creation and just wants people to love what it has created. Ultimately, Celie ceases to think of God as she ceases to think of the other men in her life. She “git man off her eyeball” and writes God off, “You must be sleep.” However, after she has chased her patriarchal God away and developed a new idea of God, she writes, “Dear God. Dear stars, dear trees, dear sky, dear peoples. Dear Everything. Dear God.” This demonstrates her new understanding of God in relation to the world, and when she puts her religious awakening into words, she marvels how she never noticed the wonders that God has made, such as “the color purple.”