Monday, October 12, 2009

How Much Is Reality?

In Maus 2, we see this panel where Art is talking to his wife about Maus. While this very tongue-in-cheek breaking the fourth wall is ironically funny, it opens up a lot of questions. Since Maus is a retelling of Vladek's story through Art, how much of it is reality and how much of it is intepretation and bias from Art? Of course, any story that is told again through some other means is going to have discrepancies from the original, but how is this problem compounded by the fact that Maus is a graphic novel? In normal literature, imagery is left to the imagination of the reader, so the writer does not have to take responsibility for that- he/she only has to write out settings, people, emotions, etc. in words. With graphic novels and, in this case, Maus, images are provided for the reader so inevitably the images that the reader sees becomes more of a reality.

Also, in this panel Art admits that there is so much about this story for his entire family that it is impossible to sort through all of the complexities. How well do you think Art actually represents his family's ordeal through and after the Holocaust, specifically for Vladek? There are many instances in Maus where Art seems extremely intolerant of Vladek... he portrays him racist, thrifty, and even mean sometimes. Considering everything that Vladek has gone through, though, are these representations fair? How much of this is Art's own bias?

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