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Vladek in the present has a lot of guilt and pain. He struggles with the suicide of his first wife and constantly derides his second wife. Spiegelman portrays Vladek as a stereotypical miserly Jew, he is almost a caricature of a Jew who hoards things and refuses to spend money that he has. It becomes apparent that this is how Vladek and many Jews survived the war. They had to skimp, save, improvise with the few scraps of food, clothing....they had just to stay alive. When the war ended, these traits were ingrained in them. Vladek's pain comes out in both his memories and the way he treats people in the present. In many ways his narration to his son is a cathartic experience that we see played out in the life he leads after the war.