In Maus II, what qualities does Vladek have that allowed him to "cope" at Auschwitz?How did these qualities work against him in his later life?

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teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Maus II, Vladek exhibits his extreme sense of resourcefulness, and this trait allows him to cope at Auschwitz.  Vladek tells Art that the prisoners were given limited portions of food, so Vladek routinely ate half his portion of bread during regular meal times and saved the other half for later.  Also, Vladek is able to get his hands on items such as cheese that he is able to trade for favors from others in the camp. 

Later in life, Vladek's resourcefulness works against him because he does not fully realize that he is no longer in a position that warrants such resourcefulness.  For example, after Mala leaves, Vladek has extra food that he tries to get Art and Francoise to take with them.  After they refuse the food, Vladek decides that it cannot go to waste, so he tapes up an almost-empty box of cereal and returns it to the grocery store.  Art and Francoise are completely embarrassed by Vladek's behavior, but they can do nothing to convince him otherwise.

atyourservice | Student

Vladek was really resourceful and knew how to save his food ect... and was able to use them when he ran out of food, and would sometimes trade his resources for an easier labor, for example when he used the bread he had been saving to receive help to the bathroom when he had typhus. But his resourcefulness was seen as cheap in the future, the fact that he counted his match made Artie call hims a cheapskate and when Mala ran away and left some special k cereal and other food because he didn't want to waste them he returned them back to the store despite the food being open. 

kate107 | Student

In later years, Vladek could be classified as OCD, but during his time in the camps this trait helped him to pay attention to all that was going on around him, and drive him to take advantage of any situation in order to survive.  During trying or traumatic times, many people develop habits or skills that help them to survive, only to have those skills or habits become burdens later on in life (when they are no longer needed).