Monday, October 12, 2009

Maus Discussion Questions

In both Maus I/II, characters often comment on how different Vladek is from other Holocaust survivors, but then struggle to find reasons that explain his eccentricity. What do you think made Vladek so different? Personally, I believe it was the death of Anja that broke him. One of the aspects of the story that especially stood out to me was the sustained love and loyalty between Vladek and Anja. Considering the well-documented "every man for himself" attitude that existed at the time and especially in the camps, I found the couple's unwavering devotion very surprising and touching. Further, Vladek seemed normal in the time period between the end of the war and his immigration to America as Vladek states that he bought many fine presents for Anja in anticipation of their reunion and that he was a very successful businessman in Sweden. Vladek's continued loyalty to Anja after his marriage to Mala also suggests that Anja was a profound influence on him. Thus, despite Vladek being the acknowledged focus of Maus, I find it interesting that there is so little mention of Anja overall. Does Art, who doesn't seem to care particularly much about his mother, recognize Anja's effect on Vladek and if he did, why doesn't he include her in the novel more often? Even though her journals may have been burned, surely Vladek remembered some more stories or details about Anja and told them to Art. How would the inclusion of Anja's side of the story changed the books?

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