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Primo levi s survival in auschwitz essay

Traditional morality ceased to be so within the barbed wire of the concentration camps. Within the camps, prisoners were not treated like humans and therefore adapted animalistic behavior necessary to survive.

It is in this adaptation that the line separating right and wrong begins to blur. Living in grotesque conditions and being subjected to brutal beatings hurts not only the body but the mind as well.

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To harbor desires inside the Lager is a mental death-sentence, as no desire will realistically be fulfilled. Therefore, to dwell on hunger and to hope for food is to subject oneself to mental torture as sufficient food will never be offered. By training their minds to focus on the biting cold throughout the winter, the prisoners were able to distract themselves from their hunger, slightly alleviating their pain.

The adaptability of the mind is essential to survival in Auschwitz, and application of this adaption to physical pain and suffering is of equal importance.

Example essay writing, topic: Primo Levis Survival In Auschwitz

The physical pains, inflicted by both forced labor and savage beatings, coupled with detestable conditions, make living in the Lager with human dignity and self respect a difficult challenge. In order to survive such squalid conditions one must force oneself to use the pain and suffering as stimuli for survival; one must not lament on the disagreeableness of certain discomforts but rather reflect, no matter how difficult to conceive, on how it could be worse.

In doing so one must turn a blind eye to evil and consider something such as a beating by a Kapo as a necessary good. Though it is an evil act to beat another person, there is an essential good within this evil, a warping of traditional moral code.

Moral Adaptation in Primo Levi

In order to survive one must forego the notion that it is a basic human right that a person should not have to endure humiliating un-cleanliness. To dwell on the physical pains and sufferings, lamentable in any traditional society, is an endeavor which will only augment that pain. Within the Lager, a society exists which embraces moral transgressions necessary for survival.

Levi posits this society within the text: Thousands of individuals, differing in age, condition, origin, languagecultureand customs, are enclosed within barbed wire: Morality is not universal and therefore cannot be applied to this concentrated society. One method for survival this community adopts is the formation of an inner-camp marketplace where goods are pilfered and exchanged. To participate requires tact and craftiness.

Both of these forms of theft require a leap of traditional moral values which dictate that stealing is wrong, but in both cases, the goods are being put to use to better the lives of others.

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Such is the nature of this inner-camp marketplace. The moral confusion of the marketplace is summed up by Levi in the text: With so many different perspectives of what is good and evil, just and unjust, it would be virtually impossible to discern what is right.

Primo Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz Essay

Therefore, the prisoners are left to do what they must to survive. Inside the Lager, justice ceases to be a realistic expectation. Saturated by such cruelty, and evil, such dehumanization and inhumane mistreatment, it would be a far-fetched hope for traditional morality to survive in the society of the Haftlinge.