In Spiegelman's Maus, why is Vladek not shooting at the beginning of the battle in chapter three?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Vladek is drafted into the Polish army in 1939. When an officer asks him why his gun isn't warm, and why he's not shooting at the enemy, Vladek doesn't answer; he only thinks to himself that he didn't see anyone or anything to shoot (49). When he did shoot, bullets from the other side headed towards him. Then, he thinks, "Why should I kill anyone"(50)? When he finally does see a "tree" move, he decides to shoot because "otherwise he could have shot me"(50)! It seems as if Vladek goes through a quick change from civilian to soldier in just one battle. He starts out not wanting to kill anyone, but once he really feels threatened, he doesn't want to be killed and decides to shoot. This is a great scene to show how a person could respond in life-threatening situations. Reason tells us not to kill anyone, but once death becomes a reality, suddenly reason doesn't seem so practical.