Why does hardship transform respectable men into savages? (Night Book)

Night Book. This is for a Socratic circle please answer thorough and simple 

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Man's (and animals') strongest instinct is that of survival. Without those instincts man would not have found himself capable of learning and accomplishing what we see around us today. In an uncivilized world, man sometimes finds its necessary to call on his basest instincts. When you're treated like an animal, it is sometimes difficult not to respond in kind.