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Man is difficult to destroy and able to survive, despite the circumstances.

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International Baccalaureate World Literature Essay Man is difficult to destroy and able to survive, despite the circumstances. Survival is one of the most underrated aspects of what life is about. Most people almost never think about it, because of the highly developed shelters we have made in this modern world. However survival remains a very important aspect of life in a man. This is true especially in wartime. "If this is a man" by Primo Levi and "The Sorrow of War" by Bao Ninh are set in wartime, and both novels clearly show the importance of survival in a man. "If this is a man" is set in a German concentration camp in World War II where a survivor describes his experience, and "The Sorrow of War" is set in the Vietnamese War in which another survivor also tells his tale. Both authors described how they have been able to survive under severe conditions in wartime, although their sanity may not have survived with their physical bodies. There are many qualities man has, enabling him to survive, and as a result of the relatively large amount of people surviving, especially after wartime, man is able to survive under extreme circumstances in wartime. One aspect is that Man can endure hunger and thirst for a long period of time. ...read more.


Primo Levi describes the men who have been in the camp for a long time, and as a result they have found a crafty way to suffer less: ...old members of the camp refined their senses to such a degree...able to distinguish if the level is at a dangerous point...always manage to avoid emptying it.2 The veterans of the camp use their intelligence to get their way. If they were injured or hurt in such a way that any further movement would have aggravated their condition, and also without the intelligence that they have, they would have been destroyed and dead long ago. Kien also shows a degree of intelligence, as shown that deserting would have dire consequences and that it would be better to stay, as he tells his fellow soldier Can, "You're nuts, Can...no rights to escape...You'll be caught and brought back. Court-marshaled. Shot. You'll be worse off than now." ('The Sorrow of War, pg18). Kien knows that although the war is a terrible situation, he knows what not to do in order to survive. If he decided to desert, and he was caught, he would have been shot. Instead, he uses his intelligence and stays where he is meant to be, at the front lines in the jungle instead of trying to get back home, out of the war. ...read more.


Man is also able to survive because someone else may have sacrificed himself or herself for men to survive. Although someone may die during this self-sacrifice, many others survive, and generally, as a group, man survives under these circumstances. A scene in "The Sorrow of War" clearly shows this: Hoa had saved fifteen sick and wounded from certain death by first shooting the dog then diverting them from the trail...gave herself to save me too.5 Hoa demonstrated her courage by sacrificing herself and in which fifteen sick and wounded men were able to survive. This demonstrates that even when men lost all their weapons and cannot defend for themselves, as a group they are still difficult to destroy and able to survive. Due to man's positive qualities, he is able to survive in many extreme circumstances. Man shows that, in both novels, survival is a very important part of his life, and he must use his qualities to help him survive. Even if a man does not possess strong qualities, someone may sacrifice himself or herself to help man as a group survive. Fate, or luck? No matter the conditions and circumstances encountered in the novel, man can survive in the most unexpected ways. Word Count: 1303 1 If this is a man, pg24 2 If this is a man, pg67 3 If this is a man, pg47 4 The Sorrow of War, pg34-35 5 The Sorrow of War, pg178 Louis Tsang 1 ...read more.

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