Primo Levis’ Survival in Auschwitz and Art Spiegel man Maus’ A survivor's tale volumes 1 and 2 are stories of the tribulations two Jews underwent. This was in the German concentration camps during World War II. The author narrates the story of Primo whom himself is a survivor.. Art Spiegel man Maus A survivor’s tale volumes 1 and 2, on the other hand, are a graphic novel in which the author interviews his father a holocaust survivor.
Both novels are a story of extreme hardship and desire to survive despite the odds that characters face. The torture and hardships that Levis and Vladek undergo are similar in the hands of the German Gestapo. Every morning they face numerous challenges starting with despicable sanitary conditions, starvation, being subjection to hard labour, abuse and death by execution on cremation. The harsh weather was also one of the biggest challenges. ‘’A lot of the prisoners died of hypothermia and starvation. By training their minds to focus on the biting cold throughout the winter, the prisoners were able to distract themselves from their hunger, slightly alleviating their pain. By focusing on “material cares” (17)’’ Levi contends that the prisoners can become distracted from their “misfortunes and make [their] consciousness of them intermittent and hence supportable” (17)
The Novels capture characters who fear transportation to camps. They have no idea where they are going or what awaits them. Their fear of death is real and terrifying to them. Germans transport Levi in cattle trucks, together with 650 other Italian Jews. Both novels also convey the characters desire to be re united with their families. They worry about their welfare and safety and struggle to survive so as to re unite with them. Vladek saves enough rations to barter a trade for his wife, Anja to move to Auschwitz from Birkenau. This way they can be together for some time to be together which gives them strength to survive.
Another aspect that is present in both novels is the comradeship that develops between the victims of the camps. In Art Spiegel man Mau’s’ A Survivor's Tale, Vladek develops a close relationship with Shivek, and even eventually escape with him. In Primo Levis' Survival in Auschwitz, Levi becomes friends with his bunkmate Resnyk and is extremely pleased when they the employer assigns them same chores. The hardships are tolerable as they are able to relate with each other and get moral support. Vladek and his friend even manage to give each other massages though this was illegal.
Both characters in the two novels also expound on the tactics the employ to escape heavy chores. Vladek exploits his skills as a tin maker and shoe maker to avoid harder chores. Levi learns the tricks of avoiding chores by learning the tricks from Resnyk, and later employing his skills in chemistry to secure work as a laboratory assistant. This aspect shows a universal identical side of humans to adapt to a situation by finding the best available way for manageable work. Both also used their food rations in buying their way out of some chores and to get contraband stuff. “Well, Jew, don’t worry. We’ll find work for you!” (I.3.53)
The first contrast in the novels is that whereas in Primo Levis’ Survival in Auschwitz is a tale that the author narrates about the trials he underwent in the camp. On the other hand, Art, the son of Vladek writes survivors Tale the character in the novel. Art does not get along with his father as he partly blames him for his mother’s suicide.
Levi is different from Vladek who avoids harsh labour by exploiting his skills as a tin worker and shoe maker. He adapts by avoiding attention. He gets lessons from an Italian prisoner on German language and survival in the camp. In 1944, he used his skills in chemistry to secure a place as an assistant in a laboratory that produces synthetic rubber. This enabled him to avoid hard labour.
Vladek’s focus while in the camp is his wife. He uses his industrious nature to secure her transfer to his camp. This shows a selfless side of him where he puts Anja’s interests at the top. He succeeds to get his wife to the camp. Levi, on the other hand, is interested in his own survival. Though he thinks and misses his family, he is still a bachelor. Thus he adopts a strategy of adaptation to his harsh environment. He pays for orientation and stays below the radar.
Another contrast is the lives of the characters after Auschwitz, Vladek lives a reclusive life. His wife later commits suicide implying that they were not able to overcome their psychological trauma. The author also points out that through his later life, though he remarried, he has problems with money. Levi, on the other hand, becomes a celebrated publisher. He uses his experience to generate income. He also pursues his career in chemistry. He gains employment and later starts a chemical consultancy with a friend.
Both characters have a desire and determination to survive by making the best of the situation and exploiting any avenues they can to improve their conditions. Though the tactics they employ are different, the challenges are similar. The fact that they were able to survive the camp is a testimony of their resilience in the face of hardships.