Father-Son Conflict in MAUS

Through the use of modulating points of view, Art Spiegelman pieces several stories into one in order to portray his father Vladek’s Holocaust story as well as his experiences with Vladek as he wrote the book. The conflict between Art and his father is one major theme of Maus which may be analyzed in terms of Vladek’s belittlement of Art, Vladek’s dissatisfaction with Art’s occupation, and Vladek’s frugality.

In the first several pages of the graphic memoir, Art presents a comic which, from the start, demonstrates a tension in the paternal bond between his father and himself. When young Art’s skate breaks and his friends abandon him, he walks sullenly to where his father is working in the garage, seeking paternal love. When Art tells his father about his friends skating off without him, his father replies, “Friends? Your friends?... If you lock them together in a room with no food for a week… Then you could see what it is, friends!” (6). While it is true that compared with the vast atrocities Vladek has experienced Art’s problem is of minor consequence, his reaction is not suited well as a response to a young child’s plea for help. The belittlement Art felt on that occasion lasted beyond his early childhood into adulthood. When...

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