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Art Spiegelman is the author and narrator of Maus, and also one of the story's main characters. Born in Stockholm after the Holocaust, he is the only surviving child of Vladek and Anja Spiegelman. His brother, Richieu, died as a child during the war, and his mother committed suicide in 1968 when he was twenty years old. He has a history of mental illness and is married to Francoise, a French woman who converted to Judaism upon their engagement. Maus centers around two primary narratives: Vladek's experiences as a Jew in World War II Poland, and Art's relationship with his aging father. This second narrative follows a period of time in Art's life beginning around 1978 and ending sometime shortly before Vladek's death in 1982.
When the story opens, Art lives in New York and does not see his father very often, though he lives only a short distance away in Queens. But as Art begins to draw this story about Vladek's Holocaust experiences, he begins to visit his father more and more frequently. Their relationship is strained, as Vladek's gruff demeanor and unwillingness to spend money routinely infuriate his son. Art is filled with complex feelings towards his father ranging from admiration for his survival in Auschwitz, to frustration towards his aggravating tendencies, and guilt for his own neglect of a father who has lived through so many difficult times.
Art also has complex emotions towards the Holocaust. Though he did not live through it personally, he feels that he is constantly affected by it. His father's personality was largely formed from his experiences in Auschwitz, and this personality in turn directly affected the way in which Art was raised. Art is consumed by varied feelings of guilt, especially regarding the fact that his life has been so much easier than his parents'. He sometimes wishes that he had been in Auschwitz, so that he would know what they went through.