“Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live.
Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust.Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never” (Wiesel 43). As he reflects upon his horrendous first night in the concentration camp and its lasting effect on his life, Wiesel introduces the theme of Eliezer’s spiritual crisis and his loss of faith in God. The repetition of the phrase “Never shall I forget” illustrates how Eliezer’s experiences are forever burned into his mind; like the actual experiences, the memories of them are inescapable.The phrase seems also like a personal mantra for Wiesel, who understands the crucial necessity of remembering the horrible events of the Holocaust and bringing them to light so that nothing like them can ever happen again. this passage resembles two significant pieces of literature: Psalm 150, from the Bible, and French author Emile Zola’s 1898 essay “J’accuse.
” Psalm 150, the final prayer in the book of Psalms, is an ecstatic celebration of God. Each line begins, “Hallelujah,” or “Praise God. Here, Wiesel constructs an inverse version of that psalm, beginning each line with a negation—“Never”—that replaces the affirmative “Hallelujah” of the original. Whereas Psalm 150 praises God, this passage questions him. As such, both the form and content of this passage reflect the inversion of Eliezer’s faith and the morality of the world around him. Everything he once believed has been turned upside down, in the same way that this passage’s words invert both the form and content of Psalm 150.Eliezer claims that his faith is utterly destroyed, yet at the same time says that he will never forget these things even if he “live[s] as long as God Himself.
” After completely denying the existence of God, he refers to God’s existence in the final line. As mentioned before, Wiesel wrote elsewhere, “My anger rises up within faith and not outside it. ” Eliezer reflects this position, which is particularly visible throughout this passage. Despite saying he has lost all faith, it is clear that Eliezer is actually struggling with his faith and his God.Just as he is never able to forget the horror of “that night,” he is never able to reject completely his heritage and his religion. Elie, the narrator, is a deeply spiritual and passionate child growing up in Eastern Europe. He studies the Torah and the Cabala.
He goes to the synagogue and weeps. He actually weeps when he prays, that is how deep and passionate is his faith in God. Through the process of de-humanization instituted by the Nazis, Elie rapidly loses his faith in God. Now, I wish to be clear.At no point does he stop believing in God. Rather, he loses his faith that God is an omnipotent and all-loving God. He sees what is happening all around him to God’s own chosen people, and suffers the destruction of his life’s most important paradigm, to be replaced with a cynicism and heroic humanism.
Elie has not stopped believing in God. But, for him, the God whom he loved and adored has been hung and executed. His innocent passionate love of God has been executed. -silence of God -never forget what humans are capable of
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