Jewish Fathers and Sons in Spiegelman's Maus and Roth's Patrimony
When we examine the characteristics of Art and his Father's relationship we see ample indications of strain in the family. Most of this strain comes from Vladek. “God damn you! You – you murderer! How the After 4 years of Vladek's death, Art published Maus however he was still burdened with guilt. Maus and Patrimony are centrally about memory: the father's relationship to his Vladek lived from to ; Art Spiegelman was born in and wrote the . Vladek had destroyed his mother's Holocaust diary, he accuses him, “God.
The photograph reminds us that behind the metaphoric Vladek is the real person. There are also many versions of Spiegelman: They also provide Spiegelman with ironic, aesthetic distance from his subject matter and from his father and himself. Spiegelman needs that distance because of his almost impossible subject, which is so highly charged emotionally that it requires new methods of representation: In this flashback, as a ten-year-old boy, he turns to Vladek after two friends abandon him when he falls while skating [Figure 1].
Little Artie is a boy in tears needing comfort from his father, but he gets none.
Artie at first says nothing, which suggests that he is accustomed to repressing his feelings before Vladek. Then there is the only facial closeup in the prologue: Then you could see what it is, friends!. Vladek still has a Holocaust mentality and lives in a world where no one can be trusted and even friends can turn into enemies. His nihilism hints at an abyss which at this point Artie knows nothing about and could not possibly fathom.
This is why the only facial closeup in the scene is of Vladek and why, in the last panel, Artie has shrunk to a tiny figure in the shadows while his father is highlighted in white. He has been cast by Vladek into the shadow of the Holocaust.
The prologue explains why Artie would become so estranged, hiding his feelings from Vladek and not turning to him for paternal comfort or advice. The sufferings of Vladek are so catastrophic that they dwarf any pain that Artie could ever experience, rendering his life and emotions insignificant and invalid Bosmajian Spiegelman writes Maus to memorialize his parents and to understand their suffering but also to assert his own suffering and to overcome his parents.
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Artie wants to make restitution for his parents but feels guilty because he can never make up for what they suffered. But he is also angry at them because they offered him little emotionally: In any case, survivor parents often cannot connect with their children because of unresolved mourning, survivor guilt, or psychic numbing Epstein He is also angry because, despite his respect for their heroic survival and his pity for their suffering, he sees them as victims: And Artie, the mouse child of mice, feels like another weak victim himself, a depressed loser who suffered a nervous breakdown and was committed to the state mental hospital, a grown man who often behaves like a child and depends upon the support of his substitute father, the psychiatrist Pavel, himself a Holocaust survivor.
How does guilt shape Art and Vladek's relationship in Maus? by Akanksha Pathak on Prezi
Was my commitment to the mental hospital the cause of her suicide? Was there a relation? I was more like a confidante than a son. Some of us are trying to sleep! How the hell could you do such a thing!!
Art v. Family
And thus ends the first volume of Maus. At the center of Maus is Vladek, a character of monumental contradictions. He came from a large, poor family and became a successful businessman. Despite having left school at 14, he learned German and English. He is heroic in surviving the war and Auschwitz, which utilized all his skills and depended on tremendous courage.
He is remarkably calm in recounting the horrors he witnessed and experienced during the war, and he is not filled with self-pity or hate. After the Holocaust, he rebuilt his life and his family, first in Sweden and then in America. His strength and devotion kept his severely depressed wife alive for years when she was often ready to give up hope.
And he also shows love for Artie and generosity toward friends and relatives during and after the Holocaust. One feels sorry for Vladek for all his losses of position, family, and friends in the war and his further losses in his old age: Nevertheless, Vladek suffers from a character disorder which makes him an exasperating individual and a burden on those closest to him.
In his obsession for order, he laboriously counts pills and sorts nails. He is also pathologically stingy, a comical miser, picking up discarded wire in the street or taking paper towels from restrooms to save on napkins.
He has hundreds of thousands of dollars in the bank, and he lives like a pauper! It causes him physical pain to part with even a nickel! Always you must eat all what is on your plate. Although these traits — maintaining order, saving things, and obstinately refusing to give up — may have been survival traits during the Holocaust, after the war they drive his family crazy. In addition to his anal character, Vladek is also domineering, critical, and manipulative.
As he recounts how the Nazis ordered him to clean a stable, he stops and orders Artie to clean up his cigarette ashes. The ironic counterpoint between past and present suggests that Vladek is as bossy as the Nazis.
Vladek also criticizes Mala for being a poor housekeeper and cook, comparing her unfavorably to Anja. And he criticizes Artie, comparing him unfavorably to himself: He refuses to give Artie a copy of the safe deposit key, claiming he would lose it.
He calls his son lazy and even blames Artie when he himself knocks over a bottle of pills.IB DP Literature: Individual Oral Presentation IOP Art Spiegelman's Maus
The effect is always to make Artie feel incompetent: He made me completely neurotic about fixing stuff. One reason I became an artist was that he thought it was impractical—just a waste of time. Vladek is so manipulative that he pretends that he has had a heart attack, just to insure that Artie will call back.
In addition to these many flaws, despite having himself been the victim of anti-Semitism, Vladek is also racist. He becomes very upset when Francoise picks up a black hitchhiker because he believes all blacks are thieves. Vladek lacks awareness of his failings and is oblivious to his effect on others LaCapra In fact, he is largely unconcerned with other people.
What maintains our sympathy for Vladek and prevents us from seeing him as a monster, besides the dispassionate way he recounts his harrowing tale and our pity for a lonely, suffering old man, is the fact that a lot of the s story is presented as a sitcom starring a crotchety old immigrant Jewish father who speaks broken English with a Yiddish accent and his neurotic intellectual Jewish-American son Mordden 91; LaCapra As mentioned, Artie can be infantile in his anger and self-pity.
Much of the power of Spiegelman's book lies in his discourse with the reader, a discourse that exists "between the panels," beneath the narration and the dialogue.
Analysis: Spiegelman’s Style: Comparing Vladek’s past to the present day. – lifewritingcollective
To understand this relationship between Maus and the reader we must consider first how Spiegelman approached oral history techniques and the problem of remembrance, then how he worked to visualize the past, and finally his use of the central metaphor of mice.
Spiegelman's reflections, recorded in an interview I conducted with him in earlyrun throughout this review. They make clear how much the book's impact is grounded in his explicit intention. I Maus is the story of two survivors of the Holocaust. There, Vladek and Anja raised their second son, Art, their post-Holocaust child their first son died during the early stages of the Final Solution.
Art grew into adulthood under the shadows of his parents' past, the darkest appearing in when Anja committed suicide. Art himself is the second survivor, although at first his torment seems self-indulgent compared to the elemental horror of his parents' experience.
The accounts of these two survivors run through Maus as Art records his father's memories in a series of oral interviews: Vladek's courtship of the wealthy Anja, the marriage that facilitated his rise in the business world of the secularized Jewish community of Sosnowiec, his induction into the Polish Army and capture by the Nazis inhis release and return to the area of Poland "annexed" by the Reich.
Vladek relates the steady tightening of the Nazi noose around the Jews as the policies of extermination were put into practice, detailing how, as the concentration camps filled, he and Anja managed to survive through cunning strategies and blind luck, until they were caught and sent to Auschwitz. Throughout Maus, Vladek's story is paralleled by Art's attempts to come to terms with the opinionated, tight-fisted, and self-involved father whose personality was formed in a world and through an experience so completely divorced from his own.
The ghosts of this past swirl around Art who is haunted by the irretrievable experiences of the dead, their residue found in familial relationships characterized by guilt and manipulation.
The first volume closes with dual betrayals: Vladek describes how he paid two Poles to smuggle Anja and him to Hungary only to be turned over to the Nazis; minutes later he reveals to his son that, after Anja's suicide, he destroyed her diaries, her account of the Holocaust for which Art has been frantically searching.
It is logical to approach the book first as a work of oral history, because of its sources and Spiegelman's decisions about the structure of its text. The absence of footnotes or bibliography should not be mistaken for indifference to the importance of research.
Now, my father's not necessarily a reliable witness and I never presumed that he was. So, as far as I could corroborate anything he said, I did--which meant, on occasion, talking to friends and to relatives and also doing as much reading as I could. I don't pretend to [have read them all]. On the other hand.
I read as many survivors' accounts as I could get hold of that touched on the specific geographical locations [depicted in the book]. The structuring of an account--how a recorder shapes his or her sources, how he or she organizes the materials into an interpretive narrative--are equally a concern. In his choices and the critical considerations behind those choices, Spiegelman worked as a skilled oral historian. He presented his father's story as a chronologically-linked chain of events, restructuring Vladek's testimony to strengthen the clarity of the account.
But, the way one chooses to tell a story is a kind of censorship, and Spiegelman conscientiously had to weigh the impact of one narrative decision over the effects of others: This is my father's tale.
I've tried to change as little as possible. But it's almost impossible not to [change it] because as soon as you apply any kind of structure to material, you're in trouble--as probably every historian learns from History or whatever.
Analysis: Spiegelman’s Style: Comparing Vladek’s past to the present day.
Shaping means [that] things that came out [in an interview] as shotgun facts about events that happened infacts about things that happened inthey all have to be organized. As a result, this tends to make my father seem more organized than he was For a while I thought maybe I should do the book in a more Joycean way. Then I realized that, ultimately, that was a literary fabrication just as much as using a more nineteenth century approach to telling a story, and that it would actually get more in the way of getting things across than a more linear approach.
Or, as Spiegelman shows more concisely in Maus: However, Spiegelman was after more than "telling a story" or creating a comprehensible biographical account. He also strove to depict the process of remembering and relating, one that included the incidental breaks and digressions that occur between two people whose relationship exists outside of the roles of interviewer and interviewee: In the interstices of the testimony we learn more and more about both Vladek and Art.
The breaks and digressions convey the sense of an interview shaped by a relationship. They also remind the reader that Vladek's account is not a chronicle of undefiled fact but a constitutive process, that remembering is a construction of the past. Spiegelman telegraphs information about events or insight into character or a relationship through inflection, carefully chosen words, or the structuring of their order: The language has the peculiar mix of confusion and clarity of spoken words--because, indeed, the dialogue is based on Spiegelman's interviews with his father.
But we are not provided with verbatim transcriptions of conversations. Comics are an art of indication. And it's a matter of, after reading Vladek's three or four different accounts of the same story with different language, trying to distill them, to keep the phrases that are most telling for me and rewrite a lot of that in a kind of telegram that catches the cadence of the way he talked.
And because I grew up hearing him talk, it was easy enough for me to do. Beyond presenting a comprehensible account of events while subtly depicting characterization and the composition of a relationship, Maus makes an even greater contribution as a work of oral history by interrogating the limitations of our techniques for recording experience, and by engaging the problematic of memory as evidence. As Art records Vladek's story, the reader follows a course of events and, yet, revelation is accompanied by a feeling of constraint, expressed concretely in Art's persistent and finally frustrated search for his mother's diaries.
Spiegelman confronts the perennial obstacle facing any oral historian, the problem of one person's account, the reliance on one memory to record an event. But, there is an added dimension to this problem in Maus: As soon as you tell a story of a survivor and how they survived, you're not telling a story of what happened.
Somehow, it becomes a how-to manual. Because there's a natural desire and tendency on the reader's part to identify with a character in a book someplace, you identify with the one who survived. You pick a winner and you ride through with him. And, yet, there was such a large amount of luck involved. There might have been certain personality traits or mechanisms that would help a person increase the odds of surviving, but--no matter what Terrence Des Pres's or Bruno Bettelheim's theories of survivors are--within a situation [?
Confronted with that dilemma, Spiegelman considered broadening Vladek's story to include others. Instead, however, he decided to confront the problem head-on.
The dilemma of not knowing pervades the book. At one point, as Art endeavors to tell Vladek's story, all he seems to come up with is a distorted stereotype; speaking with Mala, Vladek's second wife, he reflects: The book ends with Vladek's revelation that he has destroyed Anja's diaries.
Spiegelman presents the reader with the terrible realization that Vladek's account is what we are left with. The issue escalates in the second volume: In the second book, I'm now introducing another survivor who is giving me a little bit of a vantage point that I would have liked to have from my mother but isn't in any way available to me anymore from that source.
And, yet, it seemed important to indicate ways in which Vladek was not the archetypal survivor, but a survivor. So, the second volume of Maus--From Mauschwitz to the Catskills Winter to the Present --will overtly grapple with the limitations of oral technique, in part by presenting contradictions to Vladek's testimony through other survivors.
Yet, it is the achievement of Maus that Spiegelman refuses to fill in the picture, leaving the reader with the terrible knowledge that we cannot know. On the other hand, In spite of the fact that everything's so concretely portrayed box-by-box, it's not what happened.
It's what my father tells me of what happened and its based on what my father remembers and is willing to tell and, therefore, is not the same as some kind of omniscient camera that sat on his shoulder between the years and So, essentially, the number of layers between an event and somebody trying to apprehend that event through time and intermediaries is like working with flickering shadows.
It's all you can hope for. Maus is a successful work of history because it fails to provide the reader with a catharsis, with the release of tension gained through the complacent construct of "knowing" all.
II Maus may be a biography, but it is a comic strip biography, and a comic strip biography that uses mice to depict the victims of the Holocaust. Cavior Award in the category of fiction, lies not in the text but in the interaction of the written word with images. Beneath that interaction lurks a myriad of issues about the presentation of history and, more particularly, the structuring of an efficient yet nuanced visual narrative.
Consider the challenge Spiegelman faced. He had to "materialize" Vladek's words and descriptions, transforming them into comprehensible images. It's in Eastern Europe. He consulted the few remaining family photographs and, for the second volume, has pored over The Book of Alfred Kantorthe artist's "visual diary" of his internment in the concentration camps of Terezin, Auschwitz, and Schwarzheide.
And he travelled to Eastern Europe, to his father's hometown, to Auschwitz, taking photographs. Working on the second volume of Maus, Spiegelman has run into formidable obstacles: For instance, I'm trying now to figure out what a tinshop looked like in Auschwitz because my father worked in one.
There's no documentation whatsoever of that, it's hard to even find out what kind of equipment people used. I happen to be lucky enough to have met somebody who worked in a tinshop in Czechoslovakia in and so he knows approximately what it was like. And he's trying to describe equipment to me but I have a very poor head for mechanical objects and things like that. It's not something I understand well. So I sort of make little doodles and he'd say, "Oh no, a little bit smaller with a kind of electric motor that attaches to a belt to a ceiling thing.
The intensity of Spiegelman's search for visual sources shouldn't be ascribed to a fetish for visual representation. Indeed, Spiegelman shuns the ubiquitous comic-book "splash panel" displaying sweeping action or filled with minute details that are calculated to impress the reader, preferring instead to convey a sense of time and place through "incidentals": Wallpaper in a room The spatial dimensions of a courtyard To Spiegelman, however, exhaustive research still is necessary if he is to distill the images for his readers.
Referring to the machinery in the tinshop, Spiegelman noted: