Sunday, August 31, 2014

Risk Taking Researcher - Silvia L.

Maus is not only a book that talks about power and warfare but throughout the book, you can see the connections made to the theme "Family" as well.
Art Spiegelman, the author of the book Maus, was born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1948, and his parents are "Vladek" and "Anja". Władysław is Vladek's correctly pronounced Polish name, and Władek was a diminutive form of his name. He was also known as Wilhelm under the Germans, but moving to the U.S. he took the name William. Anja's real name is Andzia Zylberberg, and she took the name Anna immigrating to the U.S. In the book Maus, the names of the two were spelled "Vladek" and "Anja", to make the names easier  to pronounce.1 They are both Polish jews who survived from the Holocaust, yet although they have survived, the family relations have also been affected by the emotional traumas and unresolved feelings about the Holocaust which cause conflicts within the family.

Giving a few example of the conflicts caused because of the experiences of the Holocaust, during the Holocaust, people needed a slip of paper to show that they are working for the Nazis. It was hard to get a proper job and making money meant risking their lives. Therefore, Vladek had to keep a habit of saving up everything he could for the future, explaining why the novel contains so many scenes showing Vladek being somewhat overly attached to saving money.

         As for Art's mom, Anja, committed suicide on March, 1968 leaving no note. Anja's death greatly affected both Vladek and Art.  The short comic strip “Prisoner on Hell Planet,” which was introduced in Maus is also about Anja's death. However, Art even accused her of a murder, "because of her suffocating love which seemed to be coming from her unresolved feelings about motherhood,"2due to Richieu's death. Rysio, or "Richieu", was Arts brother who died even before Art was born,3at about the age of five or six. After the war had ended, the Spiegelmans, searched various orphanages in Europe hoping that Richieu had not died, but failed to find him. Richieu's death was also a tragedy, yet Vladek and Anja's deep love for him which continued even after his death made Art feel like having a sort of rivalry with his "ghost brother" who "never threw tantrums or got in any kind of trouble".4

The experiences regarding to the Holocaust made conflicts between Art and his parents, since there must have been countless actions that Art could not understand in his point of view. Nevertheless, listening to the stories told by Holocaust survivor himself, his dad, helped him understand his parents better and through the graphic novel Maus, that was published on December 20, 1980, more people are now able to understand the lives of the jewish people at that time.

1 Spiegelman, Art (2011). Chute, Hillary, ed. MetaMAUS. Viking Press. ISBN 978-0-670-91683-2.
2 Spiegelman, AZ. "Anja (Zylberberg) Spiegelman in Maus: A ... - Shmoop." 2011. <>
3 Spiegelman, Art (2011). Chute, Hillary, ed. MetaMAUS. Viking Press. ISBN 978-0-670-91683-2.
4 Hirsch, Marianne (2011). "Mourning and Postmemory". In Chaney, Michael A. Graphic Subjects: Critical Essays on Autobiography and Graphic Novels. University of Wisconsin Press. pp. 17–44. ISBN 978-0-299-25104-8. Retrieved 2012-06-21.

Photo Citations:
Maus Jewish People. Digital image. Key Note Blog. Hot Key Books, 27 Feb. 2012. Web. 31 Aug. 2014. <>.
Flat Social Media Icons. Digital image. Vandelay Design. Vandelay Design, 8 Aug. 2014. Web. 31 Aug. 2014. <>.

Prisoner of Hell Planet. Digital image. English 110 Blog Translation. Nick Napoleatano, 19 Mar. 2013. Web. 31 Aug. 2014.


  1. Silvia, I really like how you mentioned the stuff about their names. That was really interesting, and I would probably wouldn't have never thought out that. You made me think further about the book, and about the author mainly. I also thought it was really interesting about what you said at the beginning, that throughout the book the theme about families is connected. I never really thought about that. Nice post!

  2. Dear Silvia.

    I want to start off mentioning something you said, " “Prisoner on Hell Planet". The graphic novel which we are reading represents the difficulty that It was for the Jews. In January 1933, 522,000 Jews by religious definition lived in Germany. Over half of these individuals, approximately 304,000 Jews, emigrated during the first six years of the Nazi dictatorship, leaving only approximately 214,000 Jews in Germany proper (1937 borders) on the eve of World War II. ( You also mentioned how Vladek and his family immigrated to the US, we have not finished the book yet, but I wonder "hoe did they make it to the USA" I predict that the book will show us more conflict that will make the life of Vladek even more complicated.

    You demonstrated the reader what a tough position that Vladek had as one of the head family members. While we read the book Vladek had to hide multiple belonging, if not they would be taken from the Nazis.

    I would like to compare what the Jews had to live with the Vietnam citizens during their war against the US. The Jews hid themselves and their Belongings from the Nazis. Alike, the Vietnam people they hide under the soil and rushed into bushes, tress and other natural materials. They're strategies against the United States were vey psychological, just like the Jews. Jews would make these hideouts for them to hind in when the Nazis would come search their store or house.

    Thanks Gui