The second story

Maus is primarily a book about a survivor’s account of the holocaust, but Maus also tells a story about a family relationship.  The bulk of Maus focuses on Vladek Spiegelman describing his experience of the holocaust for his son’s book.  The story uses flashbacks to show how Valdek survived.  His account of how trusting his gut and a little bit of luck makes for a riveting story.  However, I find the other story in Maus to be more interesting.

The other story I’m talking about is the story of Valdek and his relationship with his son Art.  Their relationship is very complicated.  Art has a hard time understanding what his father went through, and he doesn’t try very hard to relate to his feelings.  Valdek loves Art, but he also puts a lot of expectation on him.  According to the book Valdek would always tell Art that he could do something better.  Valdek has learned many skills throughout his life which explains why he never wants to hire people.  Art is constantly telling him to just pay for workers.  During the holocaust Valdek survived by using everything he could find, but this trait makes him look very stereotypical.  This is something that Art can’t stand about his father.

Another thing that creates a gap in this relationship is the other brother Richieu.  Art feels that his father almost idolizes him.  “The photo never threw tantrums or got in any kind of trouble…” Art says about the photo of his dead brother.  Art never knew Richieu but he’s almost built up a sort of rivalry with him.  He feels like he will never be able to live up to the expectations of what Richieu could have been.  Valdek doesn’t help by accidentally calling Art his brother’s name on the last page of the book.  The story of Valdek and Art is the base of Maus, and in my opinion the better story.

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One thought on “The second story

  1. I was also interested by the dynamics of the relationship between Artie and his father. I found it interesting that the author decided to dedicate as much as he did to the details of his relationship with his parents; especially the relationship with his father. I believe you are on to something when you call it “The Second Story.” With the details and illustrations of his and his father’s relationship, I believe he was attempting to relate to the audience just how dysfunctional the whole relationship was and how it affected him. The whole story of his father, mother, and brother, I believe, are facts that affected him so greatly that it changed him internally. I don’t believe he was ever able to cope with his mother’s death, just as his father couldn’t cope with the loss of his first son. These, to me, were important factors in the story that helped to explain the underlining dynamics of the story and relationships in his life.

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