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Sturken's Tangled Memories Vs. Spiegelman's Maus

970 words - 4 pages

Personal and Intergenerational Memories in Maus and Tangled MemoriesMemory, as Marita Sturken's Tangled Memories suggests, is an important facet of remembering history. In her book, Sturken focuses particularly on how cultural memory, or "memory shared outside the avenues of formal history discourse" is a culmination of personal and generational memories, as well as historical facts (Sturken 3). These types of memories are very prevalent in literary works, such as the graphic novel Maus by Art Spiegelman. Maus serves as a vehicle to artistically portray the Holocaust and the consequences that it had on its victims. Spiegelman supports Sturken's claims about memory by artfully utilizing the memory of a historical event to demonstrate its effects on the relationship between Art and his father, as well as signifying how a memory, or lack of, can affect individuals of different generations.The stories about the war, the prisoner camps, and the struggles to return to a normal life are narrated by Art's father, Vladek in an attempt to retell history as he witnessed it to his son, Art. Spiegelman tastefully uses the image of mice and swine to portray the Jewish and the Nazi parties involved in the Holocaust. The usage of animals serves as a euphemism to the horrors the Jews had to endure at the hands of the Nazis. Despite this, the ideas of despair, disease, and death are still very much so present in the story. These recollections can be viewed as "personal memories", because they are described by the Holocaust survivor himself. However, personal memories can become cultural memories when shared from one generation to the next. For example, scenes of mindless and torturous hard labor in the Nazi camps become cultural memories because the hardships and trials that Vladek and many other Jews faced are shared by Vladek to his son, and thus are intergenerational. A major argument of Sturken's book is that personal and cultural memories can be difficult to distinguish from each other. In fact, they both draw from historical data, whether it is valid and unbiased, or not. As Sturken wrote on page 5 of Tangled Memories, "Personal memory, cultural memory, and history do not exist within neatly defined boundaries. Rather, memories and memory objects can move from one realm to another, shifting meaning and context" (Sturken 5). The continual shifting from historical information to personal and cultural memory is the crux of Sturken's argument, and is further supported by the transference of memory from one generation to the next as seen in the case of Vladek and Art.The generation gap in Maus is important to note as it exists as a great indicator of the differences between the characters of both Art and Vladek. Vladek is a very frugal man, making the most out of the material things that he possesses. For example, in the very first scene of Maus in the "Prisoner of War" chapter, Art is reprimanded by Vladek for not scraping...

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