Graphic Novel Maus
The graphic novel Maus was written by an American cartoonist known as Art Spiegelman in 1991. To educate the readers from past experiences and warn them about the consequence of war. It depicts the author in interviewing his dad regarding the experience he had as a Jew and a survivor of the Holocaust. It portrays how tribalism can lead to the suffering of a particular community and expose them to uncountable challenges. The past of the Jews in Germany was filled with tears and suffering since they were exposed to bullying and discrimination on the basis of ethnicity. Nevertheless, their present is different. Although they experience some challenges, the end of the war came alongside with the end of bias and unfair treatment of the ethnic group. It is a novel that has the power to teach and educate many people on family relationships, strategies for handling challenging experiences and effects of painful moments. The paper will analyze the novel’s experience in explaining the protagonist’s life during the Holocaust and the effect of the war on his son as an example of how war affects future generations.
Vladek is a unique character in the novel. He is Art’s father and the one responsible for providing the detailed information of his past to his son. Like other characters he has a number of personal traits some of which developed because of his past experiences. Nonetheless, some of his personal traits did not change even after the war. Many of his personal traits can be directly linked to the experiences he acquired during the Holocaust (Abell 65). The fact that he does not trust friends is among them. During the war, most of the non-Jew friends betrayed him while fellow Jew friends suffered death and discrimination as well and hence could not be of any help. The environment developed in Mr. Spiegelman the personal trait of mistrusting friends and people in general. The trait also affects him today and he always starts mimicking his son when the latter talks of friends arguing that there are no true friends during hard times. Another personal trait connected with his Holocaust experience is womanizing. For instance, Vladek feels comfortable marrying Mala quite short after Aja commits suicide. He also has a good memory, a trait associated with his upsetting experiences. The Holocaust victims needed to have a good memory to avoid trouble and escape unhurt. The trait also reflects when he narrates all his experiences without hesitations and in the slightest detail. He has a habit of sneaking on a regular basis which he developed after suffering too much and especially when he asked the Nazi to allow him being with his family. Besides, he is prone to admitting the fate. It is well portrayed after his wife commits suicide, a factor that makes him admit and agree to issues that are socially not upright such as his son’s depiction of himself “behind the bars” of a mental hospital. Vladek is a uniter. This personal characteristic cannot be linked to his Holocaust life. Even before the occurrence, he is seen to make efforts of reuniting with other family members (Garner 36).
In the novel Maus, the Polish Jews, especially the survivors, pass through very tough moments during the holocaust. It is a factor that develops a new way of living and brotherhood among them. It forces them to keep re-uniting even in the modern days despite being separated and war coming to an end. The past experiences reverberate through future generation in diverse ways. For instance, Vladek teaches his son how important it is not to trust many friends. It is an issue that developed in the past owing to the betrayal of him and other Jews leading to their capture and detention. Another past event that affects future generations is the separation of families. During the war, various family members were detained in and sent to different places. During the resettlement after the war, the settled in different regions and even countries, which led to further separation. As it is observable at the beginning of the novel, Vladek and his son have also separated, a factor that calls for a distance visit for them to discuss their history. The past also echoes through time when the death of Aja affects her son many years after. Aja committed suicide soon after giving birth to Art. Many years later, Art feels as if his mother murdered him and left him to die. He became reckless with his life which eventually brought about spending time in the hospital for mentally sick patients.
Vladek passes through a challenging lifestyle that gives him a non-pleasant experience in life. It is also a factor that affects his parenting style in many ways. For instance, instead of advising his son about the importance of maintaining friends, he mimics him referring to friends as individuals who are with him during good times only (Abell 65). He argues that one week in a chamber without food can call off the friendship. It is opposite to what a parent should say to his son. A sensible parent is expected to guide their child on the importance of maintaining friendly relationships. The novel shows that Art and his father are estranged, which is caused by a poor parenting style of Vladek and his inability to teach his son the required values. Secondly, his experience of separating and reuniting with family make him consider separation as an inevitable reality of life. Hence, it affects his parenting skills negatively as well. The relationship between Vladek and his son is not too bad. Although he married another woman, he still makes efforts to share time with him and narrating about his past experiences is a good sign for the father-son reunion. It implies that his miserable past did not affect his paternal instinct that badly. However, referring to the world as a hell planet demonstrates that as the only parent alive Vladek failed to bring up his son in the right way.
Art is portrayed as a courageous child who tries his best to understand the history of his parents despite the fact that it is challenging. Although very little of his child life is discussed, it is evident that the war experiences separate him from his family for a particular time and force him to enquire about it later. As an adult, he interacts with his father better and is interested to find out about his parent’s war life. The interaction is well-illustrated when he decides to visit his father to get to know about his earlier life. The past always impacts the present so much in the family and this largely explains why Art wanted to hear his father’s story. Many young people read about the Holocaust in the history books and it naturally raises curiosity and the urge to understand what really happened, especially if it is something that affected their life and caused the current sufferings. His mother committed suicide when he was 20. The only bad memories of her were connected with sorrowful blaming her for leaving him to deal with the misfortunes in his life alone. Aja’s suicide forced Vladek to marry Mala and start a new life. The marriage made him live away from his son but that only increased Art’s curiosity and willingness to discover his father’s lifestory for himself. Vladek had good memories of Aja including the ups and downs that they underwent together. Aja’S death is an issue that affects the family leading to the emergence of different challenges, including loneliness, mistrust, and suffering (Garner 36).
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In conclusion, the past of Art and his father ia a very important factor that made them what they are today. The Holocaust made the old man develop such personal traits that are absent in the majority of regular people, the characteristics that affected his lifestyle for many years from then. Past experiences speak through future generations since the sufferings that parents go through always reflect on children. The events of the war negatively affected the parenting style of Vladek although the relationship with his son still remained good. It is the novel that teaches many people on how to handle challenging moments and ensure that the mistakes of today do not affect the generations of tomorrow.