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Guilt In Night, And Art Spiegelman's Night And Maus

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Guilt

Survivors guilt is a mental condition that occurs when a person survives a traumatic event that others did not. This is something that many people, especially Jewish people, experienced during and after the Holocaust. In Elie Wiesel's Night and Art Spiegelman's Maus, survival and survivor’s guilt are a common theme, and the main characters write about very similar situations. Wiesel is writing from personal experience, whereas Spiegelman is writing about his father’s experience. Both authors have the themes of public hangings, illnesses, and the father-son relationship woven throughout the books.

One of the situations both authors talk about is public hangings. This had a large impact on both of the main characters, Valdek in Maus and Eliezer in Night. The Germans hung people in the middle of towns and forced the Jews to walk past them as a symbol of what they were capable of, how far they were willing to go, and who had the power. In Maus, Valdeks friend and business partner in the black market, Nahum Cohn, and his son are arrested for selling dry goods for no coupons. The Nazis wanted to make an example of them, so they hung them in the center of town for a full week. This caused Valdek great distress because he thought one of them might have talked about him to the Germans in order to save themselves (85-86). In Night, Elie recalled a similar situation. The block of the Dutch “Oberkapo” had been searched because there had been suspicion of sabotage to the power plant. After a search, they found a lot of weapons, and the Oberkapo was arrested along with his people, tortured, and condemned. They were hung, and all of the prisoners were forced to march past them. Elie was extremely traumatized which was shown by his comme...

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...ly frugal. From returning leftover, half-eaten food to the store, to not wanting to spend money to fix his house, or to get his new wife something other than the bare necessities. He was so used to having to save things to keep himself alive, he became a hoarder who was unhealthily resourceful. Ironically, he does not like to get rid of anything, but yet he burned Anja’s journals because they reminded him of her and the Holocaust. The father-son relationship could be seen being torn apart in each books personal relationships and in other relationships around them.
Both Night and Maus portray what two different people went through during the Holocaust. Weather it be fate or sheer luck, both made it out. Both Elie and Valdek went through extremely similar situations, they even went to the same camps, but they used their talents to help them out as best as they could.
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