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

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Anja is Art’s mother and Vladek’s wife, whose suicide deeply affected both father and son. Anja was a survivor of the Holocaust with Vladek, and they had different views on what to share with Art about the events they experienced. Anja, while not being totally open, was willing to share some things, but Vladek took a good amount of convincing before he finally was willing to open up about it in his later years. Anja also wanted to share with Art through her diary, but Vladek destroyed this after her death without Art’s approval.

Vladek is presented to the reader as a self-centered, eccentric old man, set in his ways and unwilling to compromise on anything. The events of the Holocaust left him with a survivalist mindset, where he often believes he needs to retain otherwise useless items for a potential future use, and where he looks out for himself first and others later. Holding onto useless bits of string for an unseen purpose, but discarding his first wife’s diary is an example of the kind of cognitive dissonance that drives Art crazy.

Neither father or son really gained closure from Anja’s death, as there was no suicide note and no journal by which to remember her. Art resents Vladek for the ways in which he grieved: destroying Anja’s things and marrying another woman (Mala) who doesn’t make him any happier. As Art explores his father’s story and his experiences, they grieve together, and he comes to understand his father a little better. While Art may never fully understand his father’s choices, the creation of the comic does help bring them back together.

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Anja is the glue that holds Art and Vladek together. Without her, the relationship between them sours.

Vladek uses his intelligence, luck, and resourcefulness to survive the Holocaust, but these qualities make him difficult to live with. He hoards things like wire he finds on the street and argues with grocery store owners over a few dollars.

Art is frustrated by Vladek. He wants to learn about his father’s experiences in the Holocaust, but at the same time, he wants to get as far away from him as possible.

Their relationship is particularly difficult with Anja gone. This is partly because Vladek is unhappy without her and doesn’t get along with his new wife, but it is also because without Anja as a buffer, the two men argue constantly. Art is an artist and a writer. Vladek does not approve of many aspects of his son’s life. He also inadvertently stole a part of Art by burning Anja’s journals and telling him that she had wanted Art to read them someday.

Art’s book is partly an attempt at reconciliation.

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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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