The Tragic Sense of Life
[O]ne perceived the heavy breath of a collective dream, of the dream emanating from exile and idleness, when work and troubles have ceased, and nothing acts as a screen between a man and himself; perhaps because we saw the impotence and nullity of our life and of life itself, and the hunch-backed crooked profiles of the monsters generated by the sleep of reason.
— The Reawakening
Willingly or not we come to terms with power, forgetting that we are all in the ghetto, that the ghetto is walled in, that outside the ghetto reign the lords of death, and that close by the train is waiting .
— The Drowned and the Saved
This chapter will explore how Primo Levi contemplates his own life from within and devises his personal morality of action against the background of lived existence. It relays Levi's reflections on his terrible experience— his personal response to the abyss, a lived doubt made manifest by the horror. Personal morality involves the difficulties and possibilities of overcoming oneself and the challenges put forth by others. His experiences in the Lager caused him to discover many interesting ideas about himself and other people; he has unique insights into the luck, natural faculties, and will that contributed to the survival of a few prisoners.
Despite the boundaries of scarcity, irrationality, and fate imposed on the prisoners in the Lager, Levi recounts ideas and actions that suggest how individuals used little-known abilities and some ingenuity to their advantage: