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Primo Levi Suvival in Auschwitz - Essay Example

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Primo Levi Suvival in Auschwitz

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. Any point in which the men can lie down, close their eyes, cover themselves with blankets, is a moment of relief. He relates with joy his assignment to a hospital bed: "a miracle! It is empty! I stretch myself out with delight; it is the first time since I entered the camp that I have a bunk all to myself. Despite my hunger, within ten minutes I am asleep" (Levi 50).
In "A Good Day," the presence of the sun makes life a little more bearable. It is a thing that, as free man, they took for granted. Now, "I understood how men can worship the sun" (Levi 71). And even less than a sunny day can help the men bear their burdens. For instance, "The latrine is an oasis of peace" (Levi 68), and other small facets of a typical daily cycle provide a break from the insanity of the Lager. Beside the regular meals and rest hours, the mere anticipation of a break, which "can be almost glimpsed in the fog of the remote future, allowing us to derive a little more strength from the expectation" (Levi 69), is enough to keep him going just a little while longer. In the lager, Levi learns to live in the moment. If something good happens, he will be present and enjoy it as much as he can, without painful thoughts of past or future. When he finds himself in a beautiful, clean, warm laboratory, almost reminding him of his old life, he says, "All this is a gift of fortune, to be enjoyed as intensely as possible and at once; for there is no certainty about tomorrow" (Levi 140).
Another little help is that Levi has friends. Although he writes that some men are hypocrites or spies, that men will not help those who cannot help them back, he finds himself fortunate to remain among the company of his best friend, Alberto. He takes courage in "the rare figure of the strong yet peace-loving man against whom the weapons of the night are blunted" (Levi 57). Another friendly connection is found in his countryman, Lorenzo, who gave him extra food for six months. Although every haftling lived with the ...Show more

Summary

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…
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Primo Levi Suvival in Auschwitz essay example
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