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Analysis Of Art Spiegelman’s Maus I: My Father Bleeds History And Maus Ii: And Here My Troubles Begin

2338 words - 10 pages

The past and present are two completely different moments, separated by a constantly growing space of time. Though they’re quite different from each other and separated in many ways, there are still apparent connections between the two. In Art Spiegelman’s graphic novels Maus I: My Father Bleeds History and Maus II: And Here My Troubles Begin, Spiegelman integrates the concept of past versus present, most apparent in his relationship with his father. As Artie’s relationship with Vladek improves as Vladek recites his history, the present time and the past begin to blend into each other. At the beginning of Maus I, Artie is oblivious to his father’s rough experience in the holocaust, ...view middle of the document...

As a child, Art was having typical childish issues, but instead of his father being sympathetic to them, he sees the situation far more seriously then intended. As a child, Art wasn’t able to grasp what had happened to his father, and Vladek isn’t able to grasp what it means to be a child following his experiences in the holocaust. Even as a child, there’s a clear sense of disconnect between the two, leading to their clearly strained relationship into Art’s adulthood. When Art first begins to talk to his father about the holocaust, there’s a clear separation between the two. In Maus 1, His father is riding on his bike recounting history with his tattoo from the holocaust in sight while Art is sitting in the background(12). His father, drawn with crosshatches, looks as if he’s weighed down by his history that’s unknown to Art, who’s sitting in the background curiously smoking a cigarette. Instead of his father being the one who’s oblivious to Artie, in this scene Artie is completely oblivious to his father’s past. The lack of understanding between the two isn’t one sided, but quite cohesive. Neither one of them understands the things that they’d gone through, contributing to the clear separation between the two. Art lives in the present, and therefore does not know much about the past. On the other side, Vladek is the past, carrying what he’d experienced with him. They represent two completely different sides of time, that at this moment, are completely disconnected. This idea of Vladek and Artie being complete opposites in the sense of time plays an important role in the depiction of Art and Vladek as Vladek finally begins delving into his stories of the holocaust. During a small flash forward outside of the boxes in Maus 1, Artie once again depicts himself smoking, the smoke of his cigarette separating his father and him. At the same time, Artie’s face is not in view, and in two of the four panels he is completely out of sight (86). Not only does this moment illustrate the separation between his father and himself by the smoke between the two, but it says something about their being caused by history. Later in Maus 2, Art is directly associated with the crematorium of Auschwitz, the smoke from his cigarette following the smoke of the crematorium. Artie is smoking without realizing why the smoke always upsets his father-the smoke of his cigarette reminds Vladek of the smoke of the crematorium. Something that means one thing in the present means a completely different thing in the past. The smoke of the cigarette represents the smoke of the crematorium for Vladek, yet Artie sees it as nothing more than smoke. This moment shows the true separation between the past and the present, directly correlating to how Artie and Vladek are separated from one another. There’s a lack of understanding between the two, both past versus present and Vladek versus Artie. They’re completely oblivious to the other’s world. However, these distinct separation begins to...

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