If This Is a Man by Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz Essay example

If This Is a Man by Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz Essay example

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Ever since the holocaust occurred, it is attested that morality is submissive in severe conditions. Morality stopped to be contained by the barbed wires of the concentration camps. Inside the camps, inmates were not dealt like human beings and thus abided by animal-like actions needed to subsist. In his autobiographical novel Se questo è un uomo (If This Is a Man or Survival in Auschwitz), the “ordinary moral world” (86), as Primo Levi calls it, stops to persist. The definition and usage of words such as “just,” “unjust,” “good,” and “evil” start out to merge and the disagreement between these opposites turn vague. Continued existence in Auschwitz demanded abolition of one’s dignity and self-respect. Vulnerability to unending dehumanization certainly directs one to be dehumanized, thrusting one to take refuge on mental, social, and physical adaptation to be able to preserve one’s existence and character. This adjustment causes the line, separating right from wrong, to deform.
Primo Levi, a survivor, gives account on his incarceration in the Monowitz- Buna concentration camp. Setting out with his capture in December of 1943 by the fascist militia, the text conforms to Primo Levi’s struggle in the succeeding twelve months as an inmate in the Monowitz- Buna concentration camp, seven kilometers at the east of Auschwitz. Upon arriving in the camp, Primo Levi (narrates in first-person) who has a doctor's degree in chemistry, embarks a domain that leaves him astonished; simply by building literary notes to Dante’s Inferno can he will be able to draw its contours. Following the degrading intake measures, he actualizes that the objective of the location to which they were brought is the physical and psychological devastation of the inmate...

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...ained by the Lager, an existing society adopts moral violence as an essential for survival. To be able to live peacefully, one should adjust one’s behavioral and social needs. Like the “literalized” accounts of survival by George Topas or Arnost Lustig, If This Is a Man has served as a reference for numerous interpretations and reflections in the fields of cultural studies and philosophy.


Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz: The Nazi Assault on Humanity [first published as If This Is a Man] (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996), p. 86.

Ibid. p. 67

Ibid. p. 130

Ibid. p. 47

Ibid. p. 44

Primo Levi, The Drowned and the Saved (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1988), p. 174.

Ibid. p. 83

Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz: The Nazi Assault on Humanity [first published as If This Is a Man] (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996), p. 62.

Ibid. p. 59

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