The Graphic Novel of Maus

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The graphic novel of Maus is a narrative that is primarily on the character Vladek, Arties Spiegelman's father, and his survival tactics in the Holocaust. In his account, some researchers have presented nothing more than what they call a miraculous. In the novel, Vladek manages to avoid being assassinated by the Nazis by participating and being part of the war. Holocaust is mainly the war between the Germans that saw the Jewish participation and significant killings. In Maus, the motivation to stay alive for Vladek is meeting his wife. However, the main reason how he managed to survive is a mystery.  The sense of resourcefulness is a vital survival tactic that was used by Vladek to stay alive. He was able to identify a possibly risky situation and come out using his resources at hand. For instance, he was first captured by the Nazis while taking part in the fight as a police Army. Together with other soldiers, he is placed in the full cold tents as the non-Jewish prisoners were heated in the cabins; a treatment that is similar to the punishment by the Nazis to the Jewish army. He manages to survive despite the challenges by bathing himself into the river to stay clean. He says, “Many others got frostbite wounds. In the wounds was pus and in the pus was lice” (Spiegelman 55).

The presence of courage and the ability to take risks also helped him in the surviving being killed in the Holocaust. For instance, he sees a sign in the outside looking for volunteers for labor tasks. Unlike most of the Jewels who were not willing to go, he identified an opportunity and decided to go. His main reason according to the novel was “I am not going to die, and I will not die here! I want to be treated like a human being” Spiegelman 56). After this statement, he also made some of the Jews to accompany him, and this saved their lives as they got heated in the cabins and lived. However, he was also able to realize that it was a trap in some of the advertisements by the Germans. Vladek’s survival in Auschwitz –Birkenau was through him being captured and deported where they also got separated with Anja. The opening of the volume in Auschwitz presents Vladek's survival in a place where death was everyday life-. the skills he possesses and his ability to save food such as show making land him a job when the opportunity comes. His ability to learn made him acquire the skills at Miloch shops and the repairs he made on shoes awarded him various gifts and food while others were dying of hunger and later became known for his services. Therefore he is not just surviving, but this also helps his friend in Anja Birkenau who recommends Vladek's services and in return awarded him better treatment from Kapo. He also saves food and cigarettes to induce the guards. His savings helps him in surviving and also saves his friend Anja by transferring him back to Auschwitz.

The presence of luck is also a significant means of survival. Although Vladek has so many features that helped him to survive in the Holocaust, his survival was more quite dependent on the high luck. The survival at the art therapy sessions is the primary key that leads into the debate of the existence of luck. This chapter also presents so many scenarios of the existence of luck. For instance, when Vladek grows too thin to excel in the everyday recruitment, he hides in the lavatory, and he is never seen later indicating the existence of a chance. The guard sees him talking to his wife and instead receives a severe beating and not killed whereas the other prisoners in Auschwitz were always murdered for far minor crimes. Therefore, the sparing on his life is a pure indication of luck

How did Vladek’s experience affect him and his family after the war?

The events of the Holocaust continue to influence Vladek's life. Most of his personality after the war was based on his experiences in the Holocaust and Auschwitz. He is entirely a different person in his mind and character as an individual. He is viewed as being resourceful, untrusting and miser. The separation of his family and the loss of close members as present in the horror of the war is also included the torture and murder of the Jewish soldier. He is showing the past in his way of living and facing the past experiences. The relevance of confrontation is the central theme in the novel. His reflections also show the presence of guilt that indicates his obsession for money. The zylberbergs expenditure on money became a concern on Vladek and the novel reports he exactly had to hide money from them to save for their future use.  He, in the rest of his life, however, is still worried about not having enough causing problems with Mala. “He is more attached to things than people” (93). This character of misery is also evident on the way he kept every piece of the newspaper and used them in exchange for other goods and services. He practices this also with Artie when he insists that he should clear every piece of food in his plate and the collection of goods from the street for further use.

The guilt is also passed down to his son Art creating a basis for the secondary holocaust ‘aftershocks.’  His parenting method and personality were affected by past events. Art begins to talk about his father that ends in a family reunion of father and son. The guilt of Anja’s death is highly affecting Artie, and he arrives home only to find Vladek waiting for him for relief. The wealth obsession Vladek’s relationship with other people is also highly influenced by his past encounter. His wife Mala is constantly asking on the reason why Vadek is cheap and misery unlike her friends and her who were war survivors. The two seems like they possess different personality and Mala states in anger, “All our friends went through the camps, nobody is like him!”(Spiegelman 131). The treatment of Anja is also different. He says, “Here Anja, chew on this, its only wood but chewing it feels like food” (125). Although hunger was not a challenge, the reaction indicates the love and care he feels toward Anja, unlike Mala. Whereas, the relationship between father and son is limited, the relations with his family is not good mainly on his side. Therefore, Vladek is not able to go back through his past behavior on the unkindness towards his family hence he stops Artie from revisiting the memories to understand therefore during this time, Artie and his father begins to bond closer.

The novel in every aspect presents Vladek as being resourceful and untrustworthy. He is an individual character who will try to work out things at all point. He will use bribe, and any other positive outcome and networks as well as scavenge for anything to become successful. There are many scenarios within the novel of him employing the skills such as ingenuity; work morals and use of intelligence to assist him to acquire food. For instance, the scene where he is on his way back home and is carrying foodstuffs and decides to exchange to have more food through remaining loyal to his supervisor and inducing the Germans to brick back Anja to Auschwitz (Spiegelman 110). He carried out all these during the war for his family to remain secure.  When Art visits him and begins to go through his past, he is very reluctant. It indicates he was always a doubtful man and always had a fear of betrayal and getting too close to somebody.

Works Cited

Spiegelman, Art. The complete Maus: A survivor's tale. Vol. 1. Pantheon, 1997.

Spiegelman, Art. Maus: And here my troubles began. Pantheon Books, 1986.

Spiegelman, Art. My father bleeds history. Pantheon Books, 1992.

November 13, 2023

Cartoons Nazi Germany

Subject area:

Maus Holocaust

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