Monday, October 12, 2009

Maus Questions

As I was reading Maus, I found myself thinking a lot about whether or not I would survive were I in Vladek's situation. It seemed as though his resourcefulness got him out of a lot of tight spots. His ability to fix a shoe, managing to get his hands on a spare shirt. I don't know if I would have been able to come up with a lot of the ideas he came up with. My first question is: could he have survived without having been so clever? In other words, does it take a specific kind of person to live through something like the Holocaust? Or is it a matter of luck and being in the right place at the right time?
Additionally, we learn towards the end of volume 2 that even after all he's been through, Vladek has some racial prejudices of his own. During the incident with the hitchhiker, he expresses severe discomfort and a deeply rooted belief in a racial stereotype. After all that Vladek has been through, is it right for him to have these prejudices? Even if it is not, does it make sense? One would think that having been through what he has, Vladek would understand the ridiculousness of racism--and yet he does not even consider African Americans to be of the same species as himself. In a way, he is just like the Nazis who killed his family members. What is it about human nature that makes us so unwilling to let go of our prejudices? Why is it that even after we've been through something like the Holocaust, we do not eliminate racism entirely from our psyches?

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