Spiegelman's Novels

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Spiegelman's Novels

As a result of not having experienced the horrors of the Holocaust like their

ancestors did, second generation Jews often sense they must demonstrate their respect and

appreciation towards their elders. Indebted to the previous generation, these Jews search

for ways in which to honor those martyrs who lost their lives half a century ago. The ways

in which this generation pays homage are quite diverse. Many have developed their own

shrines to the memories of their ancestors. Others are fully dedicated to the organization

of campaigns in order to obtain justice in the name of Jewish families whose possessions

were seized by the Nazis during WWII and stored in Swiss banks.

Yet another way, is writing a narrative like Art Spiegelman does. MAUS is an

impressive graphic novel, drawn and written by Spiegelman himself, that narrates his

father's life during the Holocaust. His memories come to life in the pages of the book,

although they are intertwined with another account. This second narrative, Spiegelman's,

complements his father's by presenting a portrayal of the life and struggles of a second

generation of Jewish people whose existences are extremely influenced by the Holocaust

despite not being born during its occurrence. This trait separates MAUS from other

Holocaust narratives whose limits can only offer one side of the story, one view of the

event, one version of the pain.

Spiegelman's obsession with saving Vladek's story for succeeding generations is

met with some opposition by his father, especially in the opening sequence. Neither

Vladek nor Spiegelman are able to understand what the other is feeling due to their

inability to relate. Spiegelman wonders why his father is...

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...is one of the most horrible episodes of history, it is not one

that could or should be forgotten. Its literary offspring is widely acclaimed, especially the

subject of this essay, Art Spiegelman's MAUS. Not only does the book narrate the horrors

of the Polish concentration camps, it also displays the enormous difficulties of second

generation Holocaust survivors to find a way to come to terms with the horrendous plight

of their ancestors. Its graphical novel format plays an essential role in making the story

come alive, as does the troubled relationship between Vladek and Art. In closing, it must

be reiterated that MAUS is not merely a narrative of the Holocaust, but also a story of

human suffering and struggle, not just after a devastating experience like the concentration

camps, but also afterwards; not just of one generation, but also of succeeding ones.
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