Elie runs into Akiba Drumer the first time early in his concentration camp experience. At this point, many of the Jews from Sighet are experiencing despair over their fate. For a long while, they had tried to deny that they were in danger, but now, in the camp, surrounded by SS and separated from many of their loved ones, they begin to lose hope.
At this point, Akiba Drumer appears and attempts to rally them, saying that they have no right to lose hope and question God. Drumer, at this point in the book, represents the power of hope and religious faith. He embodies the characteristics that Elie has sought in his religious studies. According to Drumer, their suffering is proof of God’s love as he gives them the opportunity “defeat the Satan” within them.
Later, Wiesel uses Drumer to exemplify the dehumanizing effect of concentration camp life. Drumer suddenly loses all hope and no longer feels God’s love. Without the will to go on, he makes no attempt to avoid selection, and is taken from the barracks and then presumably killed. At this point, Drumer is an example of how, for many, religious fervor can be extinguished by suffering, rather than strengthened.