Suffering in the Novels: Farewell to Manzanar and in Maus

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In the novel Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston and the novel Maus by Art Spiegelman the theme of suffering has a damaging effect on the human spirit. Suffering in both these stories come in different forms such as emotional, physical, and mental. No matter the form, it is still suffering. Food depravation is a method that people use to affect the human spirit in a negative way. In the story Maus by Art Spiegelman, food is used to make the prisoners weak. For example, at the concentration camp Art’s dad is talking to his fellow prisoner Mandelbaum “I spilled most of my soup too. When I asked for more, they BEAT me" (Spiegelman pg. 29). This affects the human spirit because when people typically ask for more food, they don't get beaten. Food is also used as a currency in the camps. In this scene, Art’s dad is talking to the gestapo and the gestapo wants Vladek to fix his boot; “Can you fix this? I’ll give you a day’s ration of bread. For a day’s ration of bread I can fix anything! Next day I had the boot ready for this gestapo….Hmm. He left the boot and went without one word. And he came back with a whole sausage. You did a good job” (Spiegelman pg. 61). Food is used as currency because in this case Vladek had a skill of fixing boots and his reward for doing a good job was a whole sausage. This shows how valuable food is in the concentration camps. In the story Farewell to Manzanar, food is also used to destroy the human spirit. Jeanne, the author, is being fed by the staff at the camp and her meal was ".... scoops of canned Vienna sausage, canned string beans, steamed rice that had been cooked too long, and on top of the rice a serving of canned apricots. The Caucasian servers were thinking that... ... middle of paper ... ...pg. 23).This scene shows a survival mood because they are all trying to do their best to stay warm. In these camps, the guards did not provide the people with a housing heat source. The mood is an effective tool for expressing the suffering that occurred in both stories. Suffering is a very real aspect in the story of Maus and Farewell to Manzanar. Suffering has devastating effects on a person’s spirits and wellbeing. Suffering did not just occur during the time of World War II; it is still a shattering reality occurring today. People today all over the world are still suffering withered it be physical, emotional, or mental; it is still suffering. Works Cited Houston, Jeanne Wakatsuki., and James D. Houston. Farewell to Manzanar. Austin: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2000. Print. Spiegelman, Art. Maus: A Survivor's Tale. New York: Pantheon, 1986. N. pag. Print.

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