Alberto and Lorenzo: Redeemers and Saviors
Within Survival in Auschwitz, author Primo Levi endured a struggle with resisting dehumanization. He had been put in a place where no man is considered human anymore and where within this place, if a man wants to survive whether mentally or physically, it is up to that man to resist the dehumanizing torture by the Nazis When looking into Levi’s struggle to survive, there are people who reconnect Levi to his humanity. Primo Levi’s survival was because of two important minor characters who may be seen as Saviors to Levi and who were a part of his guide to survival. Lorenzo and Alberto were two people who had hopes for Levi and whom Levi trusted throughout his journey. They were the ones who saved Levi from being completely dehumanized like Null Achtzehn or “the drowned” characters that Levi discusses in his work. When looking deeper into Levi’s survival, one can see how Levi’s survival in the end was mostly due to the strengths and encouragements of both Lorenzo and Alberto giving Levi his ultimate hope to survival.
Alberto was Levi’s best friend since they both were captured and shipped to the camps. From the start of the journey, Alberto had been a determined man who “entered the Lager with his head high” (57). He is brave and resistant to reluctantly becoming dehumanized. Alberto knew the consequences of the camp, but he also knew that he had “entered the battle from the beginning” (57) and that life as he knows it “is war” (57) Alberto has been resistant of becoming so comfortable in the camp so that he will not be stripped of his humanity. He is intelligent in a way that he sees logic and reason as his prime reason to anything and he knows the consequence of being subjected to becoming what the Nazi’s want the prisoners to become.
Both Alberto and Levi were in the Lager together to support and help each other through any obstacles that they faced within the camps. Alberto was the second main character within the work and his role within the book was being Levi’s support and hope. Although both Levi and Alberto were placed in the Lager together, it would seem as if Alberto went into the Lager for Levi. Alberto is the one person that Levi trust and the only one who knows Levi personally. Alberto helps Levi in a way in which he guides Levi through the prisons rules and regulations. Alberto knows that he must do as he is told in order to survive. Alberto knows the key ways to survive within the camp, “he ‘knows’ whom to corrupt, whom to avoid, whose compassion to arouse, whom to resist” (57). Levi may be new to the ways of surviving, but Alberto is used to it and is prepared to live on the camp. This is why Alberto himself never became corrupt or scathed.
Within communicating in the camp, Unlike Levi, Alberto is able to communicate in different languages, so Alberto’s intelligence in multiple languages helps him to be able to respond to mostly anyone giving him a command. Alberto’s guidance to Levi comes within language. Alberto is able to understand these commands being presented to him, and he can either translate to Levi, or teach Levi what he does not know. Levi’s poor German and poor French stands in the way of him receiving a blow to the head or being mistreated, but with Alberto’s help, he can follow his path and be safe from any of that.
Alberto is a supportive friend to Levi who does not discourage him because Levi has benefits that Alberto himself did not get. Instead, Alberto is happy for his friend and gives encouragement and When Levi was chosen as one of the top three to work in the Chemistry Lab, people around him had envied him and wished that it were them instead, but Alberto on the other hand was supportive and congratulated Levi. Alberto understood why Levi was chosen, and instead of being an envies friend who spat on Levi and gave him mean looks, Alberto instead supported Levi and hoped the best for him. This is why Levi has so much trust in Alberto.
Alberto has been there for Levi throughout Levi’s entire journey within the work and although Alberto does die in the end, he was able to help Levi from dying mentally and physically. He gave Levi hope, support, and a good state of mind on how to survive. His behavior and attitude was an encouraging example to Levi, to show Levi how to keep his sanity or humanity.
Lorenzo has also been a person who has gave Levi hope. Although Lorenzo was not speaking of much, Lorenzo in some ways was like Alberto. He was supportive to Levi and he himself was “pure and whole, not corrupt, not savage, extraneous to hatred and terror” (121) he knew the struggle of being inside the Lager and knew that whatever he could possibly do for Levi it would help in the end.
All of the civilian workers do in some way help the prisoners when it comes to starvation. They hate to see the starving looks of the prisoners and share any soup portion that was leftover or bread that they do not want. The Italian civilian worker Lorenzo came to Levi on a normal working day, and began to offer Levi the remainder of his bread for several months. He also clothed Levi by giving him his vest that was filled with many pockets, pockets to store much needed survival supplies. He also “wrote a postcard on [Levi’s] behalf to Italy and brought [Levi] the reply” (119). Lorenzo did all of these things for Levi, out of the goodness of his heart. He was an honest man who supported Levi and understood the rough situation that Levi was placed into. Even though some civilian workers do throw bread at the prisoners just out of curiosity to see how the prisoners will behave, Lorenzo was not one of them. He fed Levi out of the kindness of his heart and the sake of him knowing that Levi and many of the other prisoners were not beast, and were still humans like the rest of them.
Levi says that Lorenzo not only saved him physically by giving him food, but he more so saves him mentally and helps him to remain humane. This may be so because of the encouragement Lorenzo gives Levi and the support he gives him. Levi specifically says that it was due to Lorenzo that he is alive after the torture within the camp. The one thing about Lorenzo, is that he is a, in some way, random man, who helps Levi for the good of his heart. He asks for nothing in return because he was a good man who “did not think that one did good for a reward” (119) and this is why Levi sees Lorenzo as the reason for his survival, because he was a good man, a pure man, and an honest man. Lorenzo gave Levi hope that there were still good people in the world, and someone who was on his side. “Lorenzo was a man” (122) and because of Lorenzo, Levi was always able to look back and remember that he himself is a man and he will not stand to be treated no less.
Both Alberto and Lorenzo give Levi much needed support throughout Levi’s journey. They both are non-corrupt and are real men who will not deprive themselves or others of their humanity. They resist all attempts of dehumanization whether it is them personally or someone else, and they both are Levi’s encouragement to survive and they are also one of his hopes to a better life. They are the saviors of this work and are the encouraging factors to Levi’s survival. Although Alberto does not make it to the end, and Lorenzo only was with Levi for 6 months, these two minor characters may be the most important to Levi throughout his work because they both were seen as a true man and not a beast.
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