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Utilize span of the entire book.

Your paper will use several examples and quotes from throughout Survival in Auschwitz. Include analysis, discussion, interpretation, and quotes from throughout the book so I can tell youve read the entire work and carefully considered the whole of Levis narrative. Be a careful and considerate reader in examining all of the authors text. Write for a reader who does not know and hasn’t read the book.

Second source.

You will use one source in addition to Survival in Auschwitz to support and build on your thesis. The quotes you choose for analysis should illustrate your knowledge of Levis entire book, so it is wise to choose quotes from each area of the bookbeginning chapters, middle chapters, and end chapters. Chapter titles are in quotes. For example, Levi writes in Our Nights of his dream, still warm when he wakes. Book titles are in italics.


Quotes help to support your thesis and, particularly at this point, should show your ability to smoothly integrate text and your own analysis/interpretation of it. Take a representative sampling of quotes from across the book. The paper, however, is not a just summary of facts about Levi’s book. Instead, it shows an original insight (launched through your thesis and built into each essay topic below) into Levis Survival in Auschwitz and the arguments and philosophical issues it explores.

Essay prompts. Choose one.

You do not need to answer every question in a prompt. You may also combine themes, but make clear to your reader in the first paragraph what theme concerns you in Levi’s book.

1. A premise is a proposition put forth that acts as basis of argument. On what premise does Levi base his memoir? In other words, what is his overarching argument, and what exploration does he conduct in light of that argument and his experience at Auschwitz? (Note the book’s original title, If This is a Man.)

2. Discuss Levi’s compulsion to tell his stories — his dream of returning home to tell his story to others, how he writes things in the camp, the way he commits names and details to memory — in light of the human need to tell stories. You might also consider the need of the story as a means to work and to give form to traumatic experience.

3. The visceral presence of home in its absence, in memory is a major theme of the book. Home has both a literal and figurative role in this story; it is a physical place and community as well as a metaphor for return, for memory, for clinging to personhood, and for the possibility of life. Explore this theme, where and when it occurs in the text, and the reasons for its importance to Levi, and perhaps to his reading audience.

4. Why and how are (the act of) naming and (sharing) personal stories of those he meets themes throughout Levi’s work? Consider Levi as a writer-witness who not only records his own story, but the stories of the dead. Note his ethical responsibility as a writer and survivor of genocide.

5. Comment on the ways Levi utilizes his training as a chemist and a writer to utilize the metaphors of science and literature (Lager as laboratory; man and beast; the drowned and the saved–from Samuel Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” from the Greek myth of Ulysses, from Italian writer Dante’s descent into hell in Inferno) in exploring the experience of life and death in the Lager. How does metaphor heighten and dramatize his account? How does it provide a vehicle or frame for the tenor/focus of what it means to be human even as one is dehumanized?

6. Levi employs various forms of argument that in his memoir: definition; cause/effect — conditions as foundation of cause/effect analysis; fact/reason (he labors to document & establish facts via his personal experience); morals/ethics. Remember that Levi establishes new and shocking facts about the camps as a first witness and in testimony of his experience.

7. Much of Levis account relies on a rationality provided by ethics (ethos) or moral reasoning. The use of reason and a measured tone does not exclude the use of pathos (emotion, persuasion) as a form of argumentation. Levi evokes all three argumentation appeals in this particular autobiographical work: pathos, ethos (credibility of first-person testimonial; and, logos (confronting moral dilemmas as is he is solving a proof and often writing about the Lager as if it were a laboratory itself.)

literary analysis
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