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The Gray Zone by Primo Levi

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The Gray Zone by Primo Levi – Summary
In the chapter, the gray zone, the author Primo Levi describes the human relationships inside the Lager. In describing the gray zone, Levi discusses the different roles of prisoners assigned by the Nazi. The prisoners that did the work were seen as being more privileged which at the end of the day helped them get more food and live better. Therefore, the concept of the gray zone is analyzing the difference between the privileged and the non-privileged in the Lager. The difference can be seen by the tasks that the prisoners carried out, for example, one of the groups were seen as, “Low ranking functionaries... sweepers, kettle washers, night watchmen, bed smoothers... checkers of lice and scabies, messengers, interpreters, assistants’ assistants. In general, these people poor devils like ourselves, who worked full time like everyone else but who for an extra half liter of soup were willing to carry out these and other ‘tertiary’ functions.” This group was seen as harmless and not much different than the underprivileged. The other group of prisoners in the Lager was seen as the enemies to their own people. They were referred to as the Kapos who were “free to commit the worst atrocities on their subject as punishment for any transgressions, or even without any motive whatsoever: until the end of 1943 it was not unusual for a prisoner to be beaten to death by a Kapo without the latter having to fear any sanctions.” The prisoners that became part of the Kapo were seen as permanent. They were not accepted back by their people if they were willing to give up their privileges and take their place again. This led to a prisoners feeling isolated and rejected. Perhaps the prisoners got themselves into these roles due to peer pressure or were forced into it by the Nazi. However, Levi still states that we should not judge them as...

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