Jude Maus

 

“I’d rather kill myself than live through all that… but in some ways he didn’t survive.” Maus: A Survivors Tale, chronicles the life of Vladek Spiegelman, a Polish Jew and survivor of the holocaust. This graphic novel by Art Spiegelman, Vladek’s son, was written over several years and contains a non-linear story line that connects to the tale of the fathers past. Throughout the book Art is interviewing his father about his memories of life in Poland before World War II and the gradual progression to him becoming a prisoner of Auschwitz only to finally becoming a freed prisoner of war. By presenting this as a graphic novel the author is able to allow the reader to connect to the characters faster and to allow factual evidence from a survivors point of view. While the main focus of the story is of the survival of Vladek and Anja, Art’s mother, there are many different underlying themes that the reader can pick up on. One theme is the constant comparison of Art and Richieu, Vladek and Anja’s first son who did not survive the war. “My ghost brother…the photo never threw tantrums or got in any kind of trouble…it was an ideal kid, and I was a pain in the ass. I couldn’t compete… the photo was a kind of reproach, he’d have become a doctor, and married a wealthy Jewish girl…it was spooky having a sibling rivalry with a snapshot” (Spiegelman part II pg 15). Time and again Art shows his aging father blame him for his own mistakes, and when Art is not there to blame his new wife Mala, and fellow holocaust survivor, is there sharing in his misfortune. Art shows a lot of resentment and contempt towards his father throughout the book; I believe that this comes from the vastly different lives that they have experienced. 

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2 thoughts on “Jude Maus

  1. I agree that Vladek really never “Survived” the Concentration Camps because of the permanent effect it had on him mentaly and physically. He really struggled to function “normally” in society as no one could really understand why he was the way he was when it came to many of his habbits or reasoning. It also shows his underlying need to gain some sort of acceptance from his son by wanting him to come up and live with him when Mala leaves and the phone calls saying he had a heart attack just to see if Artie would return his call or come up and visit him. Artie does show contempt with his fauther but he also carry’s around guilt because he can not understand fully what his father went through and at one point had stated he wish he could have been apart of the camps just to know what it was like.

  2. I believe that Vladek was changed significantly by his experience of the ghettos, and his experiences in Auschwitz. Still In my opinion he probably would of grown up the same old man he became by chance, even if he had not gone through what he did. He fought to survive and learned to make due of what he had and used all his resources to keep him alive and saving everything he could so it could be more of a benefit later. He used all these concepts to save his life in the end. But to Vladek, all he did was survive the Holocaust, that is all. A few years after the war, when Artie is a child, Vladek always showed a do it yourself attitude towards him, and also wanted him to learn to make good use of his resources. Vladeks ways of teaching Artie were sometime uncomforting, even his wife Anja who also survived the Holocaust thought he was way too hard on Artie. This forces Artie to think how Richieu was treated before the war, and cause a “ghost-like” sibling rivalry and stirs jealousy. It was always a love hate relatioship between Vladek and Artie, with so many events that took place in the past to shape it.

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