Although Elie is portrayed as a young devout Jew in the first chapter, he soon beings to question God’s authority, as he struggles with theodicy.
After Elie’s family diverges, he begins to demonstrate his first signs of disbelief in God’s authority, especially as some of his Jewish acquaintances recite the Kaddish. While facing the crematorium pit, he articulates, “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” (33)? As a fervent Jew, he feels almost betrayed by God due to the fact many Jews are victimized. He studied Judaism under the impression that God was the perfect ruler of the universe. Therefore, in response to the insidious acts of the Holocaust, such as the cremating of babies, he ponders not if God exists, but rather why God acts as the bystander. Moreover, he evens goes as far as to say God is silent. This confirms God’s existence as well as His lack of divine intervention. His use of powerful epithets also gauges the true might of God and makes His by-standing seem like a major faltering. Here Elie is clearly expressing the birth of his theodicy.
As Elie progresses throughout the book, he endures many situations that lead him to question God to the fullest, but there are also times in which he acquiesces to God’s power. Following Elie’s feelings on God in the second chapter, he says, “My head was buzzing; the same thought surfacing over and over: not to be separated from my father…Every encounter filled us with joy—yes, joy: Thank God! You are still alive” (35)! This leads the reader to believe that Elie has not truly lost faith in God, for he praises Him. Also, one might think Elie refers to his father when he exclaims “You are still alive,” but he could be simply referring to God still being in existence, or alive for that matter. That further justifies Elie’s apparent