Primo Levi's Survival in Auschwitz

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Reading the novel Survival in Auschwitz by author Primo Levi leads one to wonder whether his survival is attributed to his indefinite will to survive or a very subservient streak of luck. Throughout the novel, he is time and again spared from the fate that supposedly lies ahead of all inhabitants of the death camp at Auschwitz. Whether it was falling ill at the most convenient times or coming in contact with prisoners who had a compassionate, albeit uncommon, disposition, it would seem as though the Gods were always smiling upon him. Although throughout the novel primo is characterized as a very willing ands competent individual, one can not say that his personality or his training as a chemist were the sole factors of his survival. For the purposes of this essay, it is necessary to further address the possibility that maybe Primo Levi was just a lucky guy.

The very first lines of the novel support without a doubt the fact that even Levi (Häftlinge # 174517) himself is aware of the capacity that luck plays in his life. He begins the novel with the phrase "It was my good fortune to be deported to Auschwitz only in 1944, that is, after the German government had decided, owing to the growing scarcity of labour, to lengthen the average lifespan of the prisoners destined for elimi- nation" (Levi 9). So, had he been captured prior to 1944, his story might not have been told. Seeing as life in Monowitz (aka Buna or the Läger) was particularly brutal upon his arrival, one can only imagine the conditions that existed before the Nazi war machine experienced its labor shortage.

When compelled to consider the conditions in which Levi was forced to live, it is clear to see that the will to survive must be complemented by another factor, as this will alone is not at all strong enough to sustain life. Not only are the authority figures brutish and sadistic, but the code among the prisoners themselves is even more cutthroat. In addition, the "cuisine" is terrible and is...
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