- How did historical events influenced the ideas of the novel? What cultural issues may have influenced, challenged, or inspired the author?
This book is a true story about a Holocaust survivor who happens to be the author's father. It is set WWII in Poland. WWII is a very sensitive and mature topic to discuss. Because so many people have died and have been tortured at the time. The book has told us that many Jews are shot, tortured, and taken from their families everyday. In a situation like that you really find out who you are as a person. Vladek Spiegelman (Art Spiegelman father) is a kind and generous person and cares a lot about keeping his family safe. He was like this when he was younger, now that he is older he is grumpy and cranky. I think the reason for that is because his wife who he loved very much killed herself. She had many thoughts of killing herself in the time of WWII. She lost all of her family and felt like there was no reason to live anymore, but she had Vladek that is what kept her going. For most though they lost everything, their family, their house, their job, and much more. Like I said in situations like that you found out who you really are. I did some research about WWII, specifically about Poland because that is where the story takes place in.
Poland was one of the worst countries to be in if you were a Jew at the time. Hitlers invasion of Poland began September 1st, 1939. Than chaos began bombs fell, German armies were everywhere, German air force attacks, etc. Another awful thing that happened in the book was many Jews were taken to a place called Auschwitz. I wanted to learn more about this place and others like it because it is the central place of where a group of Jews get killed at the same time. They also mention it in the book several times. Its official name is Auschwitz concentration camps. I already knew that Nazi concentration camps were a place where they took many Jews up to 10,000 of them and kill them all at once with gas. The camp was first constructed to Polish political prisoners who began to arrive in May of 1940. The first actual extermination of prisoners started in September of 1941. This is the main concentration camp in the book, but there were many others. Any person could be take even small children and grandparents. That is why I thought this was sad and very mature, in the book they have a scene where children of 2 to 3 are getting beat up and killed. Many of the survivors at the time have lost their families to the camp. But all many people were thinking of was to survive. And like I said many other times at times like this you find out who you really are. Because survival can do crazy things to the most innocent of people. Like Anja she felt like she could not live anymore because she just lost her son but Valdek said something that was very inspiring. "No darling! To die, it's easy... but you have to struggle for life! Until the last moment we must struggle together... and you'll see that together we'll survive." (pg. 122). I found this really inspiring. Overall I think it was a challenge to get the information from Vladek like it also shows in the book because it was such a rough time that it must have brought back many emotions.
|The main entrance the Auschwitz camp|