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Suffering In The Novels: Farewell To Manzanar And In Maus

1438 words - 6 pages

In the novel Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston and the novel Maus by Art Spiegelman the theme of suffering has a damaging effect on the human spirit. Suffering in both these stories come in different forms such as emotional, physical, and mental. No matter the form, it is still suffering.
Food depravation is a method that people use to affect the human spirit in a negative way. In the story Maus by Art Spiegelman, food is used to make the prisoners weak. For example, at the concentration camp Art’s dad is talking to his fellow prisoner Mandelbaum “I spilled most of my soup too. When I asked for more, they BEAT me" (Spiegelman pg. 29). This affects the human spirit because when people typically ask for more food, they don't get beaten. Food is also used as a currency in the camps. In this scene, Art’s dad is talking to the gestapo and the gestapo wants Vladek to fix his boot; “Can you fix this? I’ll give you a day’s ration of bread. For a day’s ration of bread I can fix anything! Next day I had the boot ready for this gestapo….Hmm. He left the boot and went without one word. And he came back with a whole sausage. You did a good job” (Spiegelman pg. 61). Food is used as currency because in this case Vladek had a skill of fixing boots and his reward for doing a good job was a whole sausage. This shows how valuable food is in the concentration camps. In the story Farewell to Manzanar, food is also used to destroy the human spirit. Jeanne, the author, is being fed by the staff at the camp and her meal was ".... scoops of canned Vienna sausage, canned string beans, steamed rice that had been cooked too long, and on top of the rice a serving of canned apricots. The Caucasian servers were thinking that the fruit poured over rice would make a good dessert. Among the Japanese, of course, rice is never eaten with sweet foods, only with salty or savory foods" (Houston pg. 20). The food that Jeanne was served disrespected her culture and heritage. Being served food that that disrespects people’s culture destroys the human spirit because most people place a lot of pride and value on their culture. When other people rob them of their culture and way of life, they feel insulted and disrespected. Unsafe, spoiled food also puts a damper to the human spirit. "I was sick continually, with stomach cramps and diarrhea.... Later, it was the food that made us sick, young and old alike. The kitchens were too small and badly ventilated. Food would spoil from being left out too long. That summer, when the heat got fierce, it would spoil faster" (Houston pg. 30). Giving people spoiled food ruins their spirits because there is no respect for the person wellbeing and health. They are just given the minimum amount of food and minimum quality possible without killing them.

Another method that shows just how destructed the human spirits are in the camps is the prisoner to prisoner interactions. In Maus, Vladek goes back to his...

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