What role does Anja's death play in the relationship between Art and Vladek Spiegelman in the graphic novel, Maus?

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mizzwillie | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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In the graphic novel, Maus by Art Spiegelman, Anja's death plays a sad but necessary role in the relationship between Art and his father, Vladek.  In my absolutely favorite book of  Holocaust literature, the artist Art tries to make sense of the father Vladek whom he knows as a difficult man to communicate with let alone have a relationship beyond criticism. When Art's mother commits suicide and Vladek remarries another Holocaust survivor Mala, no happiness results, keeping Vladek in the withdrawn, unfriendly mode he has been in for years.  As a way of trying to understand and have some sort of relationship with his father,  Art decides to tell his father's story. The suicide of his mother makes his father's reluctance to talk to Art or discuss what happened to him in the war more understandable for Art. The suicide makes him angry, but breaks through the wall Vladek has built around himself and his heart which opens the way for a relationship of some depth to Vladek and Art who continue discussing the events of the war.


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