Maus 1: Chapter 4
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The short interruption of "Prisoner on the Hell Planet" comprises an additional narrative voice in Maus, making a total of four voices (past, present, meta, and "prisoner"). The comic represents an entirely new and radically different artistic style than the simple and subdued style present throughout the rest of the book. The characters have distinctly human faces, and the drawings are marked by sharp angles, altered perspectives, and often surreal and grotesque human forms. But while the artistic style differs, it shares with Maus the theme of guilt. In "Prisoner on the Hell Planet" Art feels an unbearable sense of guilt over his mother's suicide, facilitated by the fact that his relatives seem to blame him as well. His cardinal sin, he feels, is one of neglect. This is poignantly driven home through Art's memories of the last time he saw his mother alive, when she came into his room and asked him if he still loved her. His answer, a dismissive "sure," is a constant reminder of his perceived neglect. Art's guilt over his mother's death is noteworthy for its similarity to the guilt that he feels regarding his father. This guilt is also based on neglect, and is highlighted at the beginning of this chapter, when Art refuses to help his father fix a leak on his roof.