Vladek's Relationship with Women Before, During, and After t by Jordan Chipman on Prezi
It doesn't require a psychiatrist to identify in Maus I that Vladek possesses many of that allows him to speak with such candidness with Art about these issues. one set starkly against the background of who appears to be his true love, Anja. However, if we look at the relationship between Vladek and Mala we come to see that the responsibility for the problem lies much more with Vladek than with Art. Vladek thought Mala could replace Anja because she too went through the But this serves as a problem in Vladek's new marriage, because money is all Mala.
I don't pretend to [have read them all].
On the other hand. I read as many survivors' accounts as I could get hold of that touched on the specific geographical locations [depicted in the book]. The structuring of an account--how a recorder shapes his or her sources, how he or she organizes the materials into an interpretive narrative--are equally a concern.
In his choices and the critical considerations behind those choices, Spiegelman worked as a skilled oral historian. He presented his father's story as a chronologically-linked chain of events, restructuring Vladek's testimony to strengthen the clarity of the account. But, the way one chooses to tell a story is a kind of censorship, and Spiegelman conscientiously had to weigh the impact of one narrative decision over the effects of others: This is my father's tale.
I've tried to change as little as possible. But it's almost impossible not to [change it] because as soon as you apply any kind of structure to material, you're in trouble--as probably every historian learns from History or whatever. Shaping means [that] things that came out [in an interview] as shotgun facts about events that happened infacts about things that happened inthey all have to be organized.
As a result, this tends to make my father seem more organized than he was For a while I thought maybe I should do the book in a more Joycean way. Then I realized that, ultimately, that was a literary fabrication just as much as using a more nineteenth century approach to telling a story, and that it would actually get more in the way of getting things across than a more linear approach.
Or, as Spiegelman shows more concisely in Maus: However, Spiegelman was after more than "telling a story" or creating a comprehensible biographical account.
He also strove to depict the process of remembering and relating, one that included the incidental breaks and digressions that occur between two people whose relationship exists outside of the roles of interviewer and interviewee: In the interstices of the testimony we learn more and more about both Vladek and Art.
The breaks and digressions convey the sense of an interview shaped by a relationship. They also remind the reader that Vladek's account is not a chronicle of undefiled fact but a constitutive process, that remembering is a construction of the past.
Spiegelman telegraphs information about events or insight into character or a relationship through inflection, carefully chosen words, or the structuring of their order: The language has the peculiar mix of confusion and clarity of spoken words--because, indeed, the dialogue is based on Spiegelman's interviews with his father. But we are not provided with verbatim transcriptions of conversations.
Comics are an art of indication. And it's a matter of, after reading Vladek's three or four different accounts of the same story with different language, trying to distill them, to keep the phrases that are most telling for me and rewrite a lot of that in a kind of telegram that catches the cadence of the way he talked.
And because I grew up hearing him talk, it was easy enough for me to do.
Beyond presenting a comprehensible account of events while subtly depicting characterization and the composition of a relationship, Maus makes an even greater contribution as a work of oral history by interrogating the limitations of our techniques for recording experience, and by engaging the problematic of memory as evidence.
As Art records Vladek's story, the reader follows a course of events and, yet, revelation is accompanied by a feeling of constraint, expressed concretely in Art's persistent and finally frustrated search for his mother's diaries. Spiegelman confronts the perennial obstacle facing any oral historian, the problem of one person's account, the reliance on one memory to record an event.
But, there is an added dimension to this problem in Maus: As soon as you tell a story of a survivor and how they survived, you're not telling a story of what happened. Somehow, it becomes a how-to manual. Because there's a natural desire and tendency on the reader's part to identify with a character in a book someplace, you identify with the one who survived.
You pick a winner and you ride through with him. And, yet, there was such a large amount of luck involved. There might have been certain personality traits or mechanisms that would help a person increase the odds of surviving, but--no matter what Terrence Des Pres's or Bruno Bettelheim's theories of survivors are--within a situation [? Confronted with that dilemma, Spiegelman considered broadening Vladek's story to include others.
Instead, however, he decided to confront the problem head-on. The dilemma of not knowing pervades the book. At one point, as Art endeavors to tell Vladek's story, all he seems to come up with is a distorted stereotype; speaking with Mala, Vladek's second wife, he reflects: The book ends with Vladek's revelation that he has destroyed Anja's diaries. Spiegelman presents the reader with the terrible realization that Vladek's account is what we are left with.
The issue escalates in the second volume: In the second book, I'm now introducing another survivor who is giving me a little bit of a vantage point that I would have liked to have from my mother but isn't in any way available to me anymore from that source. And, yet, it seemed important to indicate ways in which Vladek was not the archetypal survivor, but a survivor. So, the second volume of Maus--From Mauschwitz to the Catskills Winter to the Present --will overtly grapple with the limitations of oral technique, in part by presenting contradictions to Vladek's testimony through other survivors.
Yet, it is the achievement of Maus that Spiegelman refuses to fill in the picture, leaving the reader with the terrible knowledge that we cannot know. On the other hand, In spite of the fact that everything's so concretely portrayed box-by-box, it's not what happened. It's what my father tells me of what happened and its based on what my father remembers and is willing to tell and, therefore, is not the same as some kind of omniscient camera that sat on his shoulder between the years and So, essentially, the number of layers between an event and somebody trying to apprehend that event through time and intermediaries is like working with flickering shadows.
It's all you can hope for. Maus is a successful work of history because it fails to provide the reader with a catharsis, with the release of tension gained through the complacent construct of "knowing" all.
II Maus may be a biography, but it is a comic strip biography, and a comic strip biography that uses mice to depict the victims of the Holocaust. Cavior Award in the category of fiction, lies not in the text but in the interaction of the written word with images. Beneath that interaction lurks a myriad of issues about the presentation of history and, more particularly, the structuring of an efficient yet nuanced visual narrative.
Consider the challenge Spiegelman faced.
He had to "materialize" Vladek's words and descriptions, transforming them into comprehensible images. It's in Eastern Europe.
He consulted the few remaining family photographs and, for the second volume, has pored over The Book of Alfred Kantorthe artist's "visual diary" of his internment in the concentration camps of Terezin, Auschwitz, and Schwarzheide. And he travelled to Eastern Europe, to his father's hometown, to Auschwitz, taking photographs. Working on the second volume of Maus, Spiegelman has run into formidable obstacles: For instance, I'm trying now to figure out what a tinshop looked like in Auschwitz because my father worked in one.
There's no documentation whatsoever of that, it's hard to even find out what kind of equipment people used. I happen to be lucky enough to have met somebody who worked in a tinshop in Czechoslovakia in and so he knows approximately what it was like.
And he's trying to describe equipment to me but I have a very poor head for mechanical objects and things like that. It's not something I understand well. So I sort of make little doodles and he'd say, "Oh no, a little bit smaller with a kind of electric motor that attaches to a belt to a ceiling thing. The intensity of Spiegelman's search for visual sources shouldn't be ascribed to a fetish for visual representation. Indeed, Spiegelman shuns the ubiquitous comic-book "splash panel" displaying sweeping action or filled with minute details that are calculated to impress the reader, preferring instead to convey a sense of time and place through "incidentals": Wallpaper in a room The spatial dimensions of a courtyard To Spiegelman, however, exhaustive research still is necessary if he is to distill the images for his readers.
Referring to the machinery in the tinshop, Spiegelman noted: The final drawing will not reflect any of this stuff because it's going to be a two-inch high drawing with a little line representing an electrical cable or something But, somehow, I don't feel comfortable until I know what it is that I'm [drawing], where it's situated. Even if it's ultimately a rather fictionalized space, I have to believe in that space enough so that it can be there, even though what finally represents that space is so modest that somebody can project a whole other space onto what I've drawn It's just steeping myself in enough stuff so that I know what it is.
And once I know what it is, I assume that I can get some of it over. Yet, the "unknowableness" remains a problem: For instance, the stuff in the camps that I'm working on now is very, very difficult because I just can't get a clear sense of movement through Auschwitz.
None of the accounts are sufficient to let me feel that. How much is the artist willing to invent to fill out the incomplete record? When parts of the past are cloaked in silence, how can the artist lend visual coherence to the images without producing pictures that merely provide an illusion of knowledge?
Unless I need to show it, I try not to speculate on what might be happening in the background. In Maus, Spiegelman has used the strengths of the conventions of the comic strip, stretching and rearranging text and image into a coherent presentation. This may seem a long way from listened-to words and transcribed language. But if we accept the idea that history is a construct and not facts existing in a natural state, the aspects of Maus that at first sight seem removed from biography will emerge as critical constitutive parts.
Maus was published in a digest-sized book similar to the periodical you hold in your hand. That size is, of course, unusual for a comic book. Within this format, Spiegelman designed panels that average about two inches in height. The veteran cartoonist has used this dimension to his advantage, creating emphases and effects through sudden changes in an otherwise more uniform presentation. When Vladek and Anja, for the first time, confront Nazism in Czechoslovakia, its impact upon them and their accompanying fear emerge through the abruptly changed dimension of the panel: The effect is heightened by Spiegelman's unusual method of cartooning.
In contrast, the elderly Vladek telling his story is a very different man. Vladek complains constantly about his wife Mala, and is obsessive over money. He is so cheap, that he leaves the stove on all day in his cabin in the Catskills so he does not have to waste another match lighting the pilot. Spiegelman, in one of the books few light moments, even depicts Vladek trying to return a bag full of open and partially eaten groceries to the store.
Without question, the holocaust is responsible for the severe changes in the demeanor of this man. Vladek himself even admits his compulsive reluctance to waste anything is the product of years of having little. It is clear that he has also never really gotten over Anja's death.
This is perhaps some of the reason why he is so critical of Maya. For example, at one point in volume one, Vladek takes Art to the bank to go through Vladek's social security box--where he keeps some valuables secret from Mala. There Vladek complains about his wife: What do you want from me? Why I ever remarried? Anja killed herself because she could not come to terms with the holocaust. Her death, like the holocaust itself, haunted him all his life.
Art's Survivor's Tale While Vladek's memoir is an important part of the story, Maus is equally the story of Spiegleman himself trying to come to grips with the holocaust and his father's memories. Yet what makes Maus unique from other holocaust narratives--besides, of course, its form--is how Spiegelman portrays not only his father's story but his own as he struggles to put together Vladek's rambling recollections into a coherent narrative. This is doubly difficult since Art can barely stand being around his difficult father.
Hence, throughout the book Art depicts scenes inwhich he implores his father to stick to his tale. For example, early in the first volume, after Vladek characteristically complains about Mala, Art responds, "Please, Pop! I'd rather not hear all that again.
Joshua Brown: Of Mice and Memory ()
Tell me aboutwhen you were drafted" Vol. Art's attempt to deal with his family's history is portrayed in several ways throughout the work.
Spiegelman devotes the most attention to this theme in chapter two of the second volume, "Auschwitz Time Flies ". With this title Spiegleman links the chapter to chapter one's "Mauswitz".
While chapter one depicts Vladek in mouse form arriving and struggling to survive at the concentration camp, chapter two depicts Art struggling cope with the very real horror's of Auschwitz.
Indeed, in this chapter Spiegelman does not draw himself as a mouse but as a man wearing a mouse mask--symbolizing his struggle to identify with his father's story. This chapter also allows Spiegelman to take full advantage of the form he has chosen. For example, on page 42 Spiegelman depicts himself being barraged by the media attention the publishing of the first volume has given him.
Through a series of panels, Art is shown shrinking in his chair from the media's questions until he is finally the size of a child. In this diminished form Art goes to see his psychiatrist, Pavel. Pavel consoles him, and on page 46 Art is shown gradually reverting back to adult size.
However, on the next page when Art returns to his father's tapes, he quickly shrinks again. Thus in a very visual way Spiegelman represents how he himself felt diminished by his father's tale. It is while feeling this way that Art confides to Pavel that "No matter what I accomplish, it doesn't seem like much when compared to surviving Auschwitz" Indeed, earlier in volume two Art relates how while growing up he felt that he was in competition with the memory of Richelu--his older brother lost at the age of five or six during the war.
This competition was felt despite the fact that Richelu was rarely talked about and that his main presence was a blurry photo in Vladek's bedroom. Complains Art to his wife, "The photo never threw any tantrums or got in trouble. I couldn't compete" Vol. This comparison is further accentuated in the ailing Vladek's last sentence in the book--which doubles as the last line of text--in which he mistakenly refers to Art as Richelu: How Others Survived Though Maus is really the story of Vladek and Art, it does offer glimpses into how other survivors dealt with the holocaust as well.