The Complete Maus
Name of Student
Vladek was a tough man, a characteristic that enabled him to survive. Mala says of him that he had a concern for “things than people” (133). He is resourceful and courageous, a trait that makes him ride in a tram that was reserved for the officials of the Nazi. He also shows some dictatorial character when he claims that one should show they want him by “going my way” (31). He seems heartless, a person who loves himself, a materialistic person, whose resourcefulness made him survive the holocaust, and might have drawn Anja from him.
After the war, Vladek claims that they lived “happily ever after” (296), a statement that shows the change and institutionalization of their relationship. However, Anja commits suicide in the process. One wonders why Anja could commit suicide if truly their life was a happy one. Self-deception is thus evident, linking this to the institutionalization of anti-Semitism and concentration camps. The persistence of Vladek with life: “…to die, its easy…..but……struggle for life” is also an indication of how slowly the anti-Semitism was introduced and institutionalized by the Nazis.
In a marriage with Anja, Vladek seems, loving, composed and calm. He claims that his relationship with Anja was good and that they lived “very happy” (296). However, he is not slow to anger in the second relationship. It is evident that in the second relationship they are always unhappy, and fighting over money: “She screamed…. I want money” (127). Even though both Mala and Anja had bad experiences with the holocaust; the two emerged with different traits. While Anja didn’t retain the bitterness, Mala retained the bitterness, and she portrays the same to Vladek.
Art displays his guilt thus: “I know this is insane…” (179). He regrets not being with his parents to know how they survived, and is guilt of living a life that is not as difficult as his parents. He also seems guilty of his mother’s death. While Art’s guilt is very deep inside of him, Anja suffers depression and loneliness. Art suffers guilt to the extent he laments: “… they think it’s my fault…” He suffers because of Anja’s death. On the other hand, Anja may be guilty of ‘murdering Art with guilt” through her suicide with the umbilical cord. However, the degrees of their guilt are different, with Art’s being a very serious one.
Art portrays annoyance towards his father for his behavior. He doesn’t like his father’s behavior and actions. He even displays this by referring to him as a “murderer” (161). Although Vladek loved Art and wanted to help him, tensions between the two, brought by Vladek’s change of behavior towards old age, and Vladek was thus not in a position to build a positive relationship with Art. Art is disgusted about Vladek’s life that he even feels as if he is not a good son, and this instills a lot of guilt in him. Art likens himself with Vladek to show his contempt for Vladek, and portrays Vladek as being a worse human being.
The relationship between Art and Vladek is very depictive of the life of the Holocaust. Art seems to be emotionally attached to the Holocaust, despite the fact that he was not directly involved in it, but his parents who survived the Holocaust. He laments thus: “No matter what I achieve… surviving Auschwitz”. Such a lamentation shows Art’s attachment to the Holocaust. The nasty relationship between Art and Vladek also connotes their attachment to the Holocaust in their lives. In regard to Anja’s death, and Vladek burning her photos, Art refers to him as a “murderer”(161). Vladek claims he burned them because they elicited “memories” of the Holocaust. The two verbalizations confirm the two character’s thoughts on being part of the Holocaust.