What authorial choices does Spiegelman use in the hanging scene in Maus to portray the effects religious persecution had on Vladek's mental health? How does this scene foreshadow the detrimental effects this event will have on the generational development of mental health issues?

For Vladek, the hanging scene is a haunting reminder of how his community was targeted during the Holocaust, even though he only knew the men being hanged on business terms. The scene foreshadows how the Holocaust continues to haunt both its survivors and their own descendants.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

While sharing his experiences during the war with Artie, Vladek is particularly moved by the memory of a hanging. Several Jewish business owners are killed by the Nazi authorities for dealing goods on the black market, among them men Vladek had done business with in the past. Their bodies are left dangling for a week as a warning to the local Jewish population not to illegally sell goods—that is, not to sell or trade goods at all.

The image of the hanged victims is presented as the dominant visual on the page, reflecting the event's prominence in Vladek's memories. Close-ups of the victims' agonized faces also loom in the background of an image of Vladek sitting at a desk with his head in his hands. In this way, Spiegelman is showcasing just how haunted Vladek is by this act. Vladek mentions that the hanged men could have easily turned him in to possibly save themselves but did not. He is disturbed by the fact that he could have been among the dead and moved by the loyalty to the hanged men to their fellow Jews.

The scene foreshadows how the Holocaust continues to haunt its victims and their descendants. Vladek is reluctant to speak of the events in the first place and the memories still pain him to the point of anxiety and depression. Artie is also affected by the Holocaust even though he was born after the end of the war because of how it affected his parents' mental health and behavior once it was all over.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial