Understanding the Holocaust through Art Spiegelman's Maus Essay

800 Words 4 Pages
The experience of being in the Holocaust is hard to imagine. The physical pain and fear that a survivor of the Holocaust felt could never fully be understood by anyone other than a fellow survivor. The children of survivors may not feel the physical pain and agony as their parents did, but they do feel the psychological effects. For this reason Artie and his father could never connect. The Holocaust built a wall between them that was hard to climb. Artie makes an attempt to overcome the wall between him and his father by writing the comic Maus about his father’s life in hopes to grow closer to him and understand him better, yet he struggles in looking past his father’s picky habits and hypocritical attitude.

Artie’s father, Valdek,
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Artie’s father’s annoying habits somewhat lead to bad habits in Artie. Artie is a chain smoker. It relieves his tension. He is almost always seen lighting a cigarette when talking with his father. A scene in the story that truly encouraged Artie’s smoking habit was the event when Artie’s wife picked up a black hitchhiker. This very much disturbed Valdek. He viewed all blacks as thieves. Artie’s wife, Francois, barked back exactly what Artie was thinking, "that’s outrageous! How can you, of all people, be such a racist! You talk about blacks the way the Nazis talked about the Jews!" Artie simply glared as if his wife took the words right out of his mouth, and reached for a cigarette to calm his nerves. Valdek’s obsessive acts of saving and having everything in its place were almost all that Artie could take, not to mention his hypercritical attitude. Years and years of this built up in Artie. This may have been large reason for him being sent to the state mental hospital. Not long after his return from the hospital, his mother committed suicide. He was expected to take care of his father, who not only lost his wife, but the person that he shared the experience of the Holocaust with and that was something he could not deal with because he did not understand
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