The beginning story takes place in a little town in Transylvania called Sighet in 1941. It follows Elie, a young Jew devoted to his religion, and those around him--his family and the Jewish community. Elie actively searches for a master to guide him in his studies of Kabbalah, and eventually finds that in Moishe the Beadle.
The main conflict is found to be the Nazi German oppression against the Jews. First introduced by Moishe after escaping from the Gestapo in the Galician forest, this oppression was initially ignored by the Jewish community of Sighet. However, as time passed, the problem with the Germans became undeniable and affected everyone. More specifically, it affected out protagonist's outlook on life, faith, and relationships.
The arrival at Auschwitz truly made the conflict clear to the Jews, and even more so to Elie. The concentration camp was filled with suffering that served as a wake up call for them. In Auschwitz they experienced separation, indifference, death, and other terrible situations.
The climax of the story is the death of Shlomo, Elie's father. This is the moment where the conflict truly faces and impacts Elie, and it does so by taking his one motivation for living. Though his father died, no tears were wept and no prayers were said. This demonstrates the progression of the deterioration of Elie's faith, and the effect that the Nazi oppression and concecntration camp lifestyle had on him.
Following the death of his father, Elie remained in Buchenwald. He writes that he would not describe his life during that period because "it no longer mattered" (Wiesel, 113). This shows that Elie experienced extreme detachment and became distant after losing his motivation for life. What he did describe was that he "spent [his] days in total idleness" (Wiesel, 113).
The story comes to a close with the liberation of Buchenwald on April 10, 1945. When liberated, Elie thought not of revenge, his parents, nor God, but "only of bread" (Wiesel, 115). Elie gets a chance to look at himself for the first time since the ghetto, and describes what he saw as "a corpse" (Wiesel, 115). This signifies that his time under the oppression of the Nazis truly changed him into someone unrecognizable to himself.