Monday, October 12, 2009

Maus Questions: Accuracy and the Origin of Disappointment

My first question concerns the topic of historical accuracy of Maus. We would probably be correct to assume that Art himself has not edited any facts about his father's experience in the Holocaust. But what of Vladek's testimony? As mentioned in an earlier blog post, he often seems very lucky while in sticky situations: for instance, on page 93 of Maus II, he meets a Frenchman who converses with him in English in exchange for food that, as he puts it, saves his life. One part of the story, shown on page 133, is particularly difficult to believe. On this page, while living in Sosnowiec, Anja sees a fortune teller who tells her that her whole family has died except for Vladek. Is this accurate on Vladek's part? Is it possible that Anja convinced herself of this after the fact - that the story is a little stretched? These are probably unanswerable questions. My main question is, should we base our interpretation of Maus on its historical accuracy or on how the details of the story - whether real or not completely - tie in to make a complete narrative?

My second question is related to Vladek's perception of Art. The former often "brags" about his younger self. For instance, on page 33 of Maus II, he recollects, "Always I was handsome..." In addition, he knew how to work with tin and quickly learned how to repair shoes at Auschwitz. He also prizes himself on his frugality. In the books, does he compare himself with his son and does this result in his disappointment of him?

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