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The Stuggle for Self-Perservation

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The Struggle For Self-Preservation

Each and every day, we struggle for our existence and purpose in this world. Even though we do not know what our lives mean, we want to preserve it. People say that death is a part of life and that there is none without the other. There is nothing to fear from death, yet we all do not want to embrace it. Our life, to be alive, is something that we all treasure. To what extreme measures would we go to preserve ourselves? People in the concentration camps went to those extreme measures, some sooner than others. In due time all of them would've had their humanity broken. In the concentration camps, Elie's humanity slowly deteriorates due to the animalistic need for his own survival and self-preservation.

As Elie endured the concentration camps, he realized that you could only care for yourself to ensure your own survival. In the beginning, he wanted to stay by his father, to not become separated but as time went by, he began to think of his father as a burden to himself. Elie had several thoughts to leave his father, increasing his own chance at survival. Upon his father's death, Elie felt as if a burden was lifted from himself. He proclaimed. "And, in the depths of my being, in the recesses of my weakened conscience, could I have searched it, I might perhaps have found something like--free at last!" - Night, Chapter 8, Page 106. Elie never left his father, but the Nazi's were able to distort his humanity so much that he no longer had compassion toward his father.

The cruelty of the Nazi's brought out Elie' most basic instincts. During his stay on the train, Elie could only struggle against the mass of people that suffocated him. He bit and scratched his way through living and dead bodies. He needed no compliance from the people above him, all he knew is that he needed to get some air. He no longer asked politely, he had to use force, for force was the only way to get what you needed in the camps. He did not care for the people below him; all he needed to know was that he would live. The animal kingdom is survival of the fittest and that's how it worked in the camps. The weak were left to die. To survive, Elie could only fight. Elie's survival was on the line; he did what he needed to do. As Victor Frankl said, " . . . in the bitter fight for self-preservation he may forget his human dignity and become no more than



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