Primo Levi Suvival in Auschwitz

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Primo Levi expects to die at any given moment upon his capture, and yet he takes what steps he can to ensure his survival and to take pleasure where it can be found. All around him, others with greater determination to live are doing likewise, and sometimes stooping to means that may seem despicable.


Levi has moments of clarity that contribute to his ability to survive, neither optimism nor pessimism, both of which are deadly. He thinks, "clearly they will kill us, whoever thinks he is going to live is mad, it means that he has swallowed the bait, but I have not" (Levi 24). What saves him is the middle ground, his acceptance that while things could be better, things can always be worse. As he says in the beginning, "Sooner or later in life everyone discovers that perfects happiness is unrealizable, but there are few who pause to consider the antithesis: that perfect happiness is equally unattainable" (Levi 17). It is this perspective that keeps him from either sinking into despair, or losing himself in hope.
In the Lager, Levi learns to take the most pleasure in the least reminder of his humanity. Throughout the narrative, food figures prominently into the lives of the starving men. Although there is nothing but bread and soup, a little more bread and soup can be the difference between content and discontent. In "A Good Day" he recalls the wonderful surprise of extra soup and asks, "What more could one want Even our work seems light with the prospect of four hot, dense pints waiting for us in the hut" (Levi 76). By adjusting his expectations, Levi adjusts his will to live. And even more soothing is the prospect of sleep. ...
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