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Graphic Novel "maus"

Essay by   •  July 9, 2011  •  Book/Movie Report  •  492 Words (2 Pages)  •  3,031 Views

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Ambivalence can be defined as the coexistence within an individual of positive and negative feelings toward the same person, object, or action, simultaneously drawing him or her in opposite directions. In Art Spiegelman's graphic novel "Maus," there are numerous characters throughout the text; however one can see ambivalence best when examining the relationship between Art and Anja, Anja and Vladek Art and Vladek, and Vladek and Mala. The novel also portrays the reasons behind these feeling of ambivalence. Spiegelman shows how the Holocaust bread guilt among so many; and ultimately how that guilt bread ambivalence.

The first relationship that will be examined when looking at Spiegelman's Maus is that of Art and his mother Anja. Spiegelman addresses this relationship very little throughout the text; however we can see aspects of their relationship when looking at Spiegelman's comic "Prisoner on the Hell Planet." The comic is one of Art's earlier works in which he writes of his mother's suicide. Despite our inability to look at all twenty years of the relationship between Art and Anja, pages 104-105 lead the reader to believe there is a level of ambivalence in this relationship, at least on Art's part. Most kids love their parents, and I don't feel as if there is a question about Art's love for his mother. Yet while she is going through a terrible depression, she looks for simple reassurance from Art and does not get it. On page 105 Anja says, " me...don't you?..." The comic reads "...I turned away resentful of the way she tightened the umbilical cord..." and Art replies with a simple "sure, Ma!" When looking at this conversation, one can see the inner turmoil Art faces when dealing with his mother. He feels she is overly protective and attached which we can see with his comment about the umbilical cord. He dismisses her question as if she is more of a frustration at that time. The relationship is not so much that of a love/hate relationship, but more of a love/annoyance relationship. Anja later kills herself leaving Art to feel the shame and guilt of dismissing such an important question from his mother at such a critical time for her.

There is one other instance within the text (Book One, Chapter 6) where the reader is given some insight into the way Art feels about his mother, even after her suicide in 1968. Art learns that Anja kept diaries during the Holocaust which detailed her experiences of this horrific time. However, his father tells him that he burned the diaries as they were a painful reminder of his wife's memory. Art is furious with his father about this and even calls him a "murder." Though it appears he blames himself for his mother's suicide, he blames his father for destroying her story or her memory. This shows a level of love for his mother, despite his frustration and annoyance



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