Eliezer and his family live in Sighet, a town in Transylvania. Elie is very interested in learning more about his Jewish religion and gets the help of Moshe the Beadle for his studies. Elie believed in an absolute and just God.
Moshe the Beadle along with others are taken by the police to Poland. Moshe manages to escape and return to Sighet. He warns the citizens about the horrors and cruelty he saw and experienced. However, no one believes Moshe.
Nazi officers force the people of Sighet to move to the ghettos. A few days later they are put in cattle cars and they are taken to Berkenau. Elie can't fathom the sights he sees. Violence and death are seen everywhere, he begins to question his God.
Elie and his father are separated from his mother and sisters. He never saw them again. Elie and his father were sent to Auschwitz where they worked in Buna. Elie and his father endure the terrible conditions from the labor of the concentration camps. Because of the brutal cold, Elie's foot begins to swell.
Elie was forced to get surgery after his foot swells up. He and his father then choose to escape the camp with others in the snow. Because of harsh conditions and climate, many people die. Only 12, including Elie and his father, survive the march in the snow. However, Elie's father becomes weak. One day Elie woke up to find his father had died and been moved to a crematorium.
After his father died, Elie feels relieved, sad, and guilty all at once. He has become an entirely different person since the beginning of his whole experience. He no longer believed in a God and he no longer carried the hope and faith he had before. “From the depths of the mirror, a corpse was contemplating me. The look in his eyes as he gazed at me has never left me” (Wiesel, 115), he no longer recognized himself.