Elie decides to throw himself against the electric fence, to end himself quickly, instead of a slow, painful death in the fiery abyss of the inferno. He wanted to do it, but his limbs failed him, and he could not. He willed his body to do it, but his body refused, saving himself from dying. His body made the right choice, because when he was two steps away from his death, his line moved away from the incinerator. After being saved from his death, he remembered Madame Schachter, who predicted the devouring flame. He swore that day that he would never forget that day, the memories of the babies burning, not getting to live out their lives, of the smell of burning flesh, of people who were not as lucky as he was, of the inferno that consumed his faith, and of the nocturnal silence that deprived him of the desire to live.~Carl
As Elie and his father are escorted through Auschwitz, he witnesses his own kind burning in pain and agony. I believe, looking at them, he saw himself in what was only a matter of time. Elie's first reaction is to throw himself into the electric fence in order to end what will be his own suffering. At the time, it seemed rational. Quick, easy, and painless. However, looking at his father, and thinking of his family, he willed his body to hold him back. Elie was not willing to give up so easily, he was stronger than that. With his father by his side and the will to survive, I think that Elie knew that he had the potential to be one of the lucky ones who could either walk out alive, or die with dignity and pride. He would not be so weak as to give up so early, he would hold on until he every ounce of strength that he had left him.