Maus – The Hatred Lives On

Posted: 2008/06/10 in History
Tags: , , , , , ,

I heard about Maus last year, I think it was, and decided to purchase the collection (there’s only two books in the collection). I had it sitting around for a long while afterwards. I started it when I first received it, but because I was not in the mood to read a graphic novel (or comic books to some) I put it away, close by, should the mood hit me.

As mentioned in one of my compositions here, I have recently delved into the world of graphic novels and thus, reading them in a certain order, beginning with Watchmenby Alan Moore, then moving onto Maus because of a conversation I had with a co-worker of mine, who actually got me interested in graphic novels. Also mentioned in my compositions. I am now reading Berlin and will finish V for Vendetta. But I digress.

I began the first book of Mausa couple of weeks ago, literally. It only took me two weeks to read the first book and second book. I was enjoying the drawings and the story telling by Art Speigelman.

Summary of the books:

The book alternates the stories told by Spiegelman’s father Vladek Spiegelman about life in Poland before and during the Second World Warwith the contemporary life of Art, Vladek and their loved ones in the Rego Park neighborhood of New York City. The book recounts the struggle of Vladek Spiegelman living with his family in Radomsko, Częstochowa, Sosnowiec and Bielsko in the late 1930s and his tragic odyssey during the war which ultimately led him to Auschwitz as prisoner 175113. (source: Wikipedia)

As a student of the Holocaust (currently editing my first historical fiction on the subject) I was intrigued by the story telling of his father, Vladek….until. Until I realized what a pushy man Vladek is and the blame game he likes to play with his son and other people.

Here’s what I mean. There’s a part in the story where Vladek is counting his pills. Apparently, he takes a lot and has to count them out as to not miss any of them or any day. While he’s telling his story to Art, his (Vladek’s) arm hits one of the medicine bottles and his pills fall all over the floor. Instead of taking responsibility for his actions, he quickly blames his son by saying in an angry tone, “Look at what you made me do”. (I’ll get the exact quote in a bit). He never once apologized to his son later in the book for lashing out at him.

Second incident, (mind you, there were many, but these two stuck out to me) that took place is in the second book where Art, his father and Art’s wife are driving home from town and Art’s wife see’s a hitchhiker on the road and decides to pick him up. The hitchhiker is black and Vladek was not liking this at all. He proceeded to call the hitchhiked are racial slur in his native tongue of Yiddish. Art is baffled by this because as he puts it, “after all you have been through you have the nerve to prejudice” (I am paraphrasing, of course). Vladek said that when he worked in New York in the garment district (I will, again, get the facts in a bit. I don’t have the book with me right now) and he would leave his things laying around the “black” people there would steal them. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but there was a lot of stealing going on in the camps as well by everyone. Shouldn’t Vladek be disliking everyone and not just one group of people for something that happened way out side the Holocaust?

His hatred and Yiddish racial slur was the icing on the cake for me and I put the book down. Well, I put it down after I found out he was rescued by the Americans in 1945.

I find this guy rather repulsive with a hateful heart. I am with his son, for someone who went through hell because he was Jewish, how could he hate another for who they are? But unfortunately, that’s how people. Some seem to forget the struggles they have gone through and thus continue putting their acquired burden on others.

Vladek has since passed on (I believe he died in 1982). He leaves behind a horrendous history from the eyes of someone who was there and for that I thank him. But more importantly, I thank Art for wanting to know the history of the Holocaust believing in himself enough to put the story out in a comic book format, although it is not recommended for children at all.

The drawings are magnificent and the way he captures the moods, the faces, the jesters are amazing. I thought Watchmen was an amazing comic book, but Art beats that one because capturing what took place in the concentration camps is not an easy task to do.

I hope my novel is just as good as Art’s comic book.


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