How did characters in Maus use more than inner strength to survive?

Quick answer:

Vladek's inner strength was not enough to survive the Holocaust. He had to use his intelligence and skills, too.

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Art Spiegelman records the story of his father's experience during the Holocaust through his graphic novel Maus. It is subtitled "A Survivor's Tale." Inner strength was a factor regarding whether characters survived or not, as Tosha lacks the inner strength and poisons Richieu, along with her own children. However, it takes more than inner strength. Vladek must also use his intelligence, skills, and some luck in order to survive. For example, Vladek is able to use his skills as a tin worker and a shoemaker in Aushwitz. When German soldiers bring Vladek and other prisoners to the woods for execution, the Germans run away under fear of American soldiers—perhaps it was luck that saved Vladek in this instance. Vladek uses his intelligence when he is a prisoner of war: he bathes in order to keep clean and avoid infections. He also volunteers for a labor assignment, which allows him to sleep in a heated cabin.

An interesting discussion would be whether Vladek's inner strength contributed to his intelligence and bravery.

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