What kind of Conflicts does Vladek have throughout the story with Mala or Artie.
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Vladek’s fortunes change when the Germans occupy Poland.
As World War II begins, Vladek is sent to fight, and ends up a prisoner of war. When he is freed, he returns to a Poland that is now occupied by Germany, and thus subject to its laws. Conditions worsen as the Germans confiscate the Jews’ property, restrict their movements, move them into ghettoes, and deport Jews to the camps.
Vladek's mind rambles off on tangents causing a great deal of confusion for Art as he tries to keep the events in order. This is hardly Vladek's fault. In reality, this source of tension results more from old age than being a holocaust survivor. The difficulties as shown in this panel create tension that underlies all of the other conflicts.
Vladek is also compulsive about neatness, having everything in its place and keeping life organized. He hates for his checkbook balance to be off by even a few cents. This compulsiveness must have made Art's childhood very difficult. There are no indications that Vladek has gotten worse in his old age. On the contrary, he tells us he has always been this way when he reminds Art of how good Anja had been in taking care of him when she was still alive. Vladek is beyond eccentric and in fact probably has a mental condition.
The problem of Vladek's insistence on detail is further compounded by his cheapness. Art openly worries if he should dwell on his Father's excessive miserliness or if he should gloss over it so he does not perpetuate a traditional Jewish stereotype. Art decides to be honest about his Father and reveals how his frugality caused major tensions within the family. Again, imagine how difficult it would have been to be a child growing up with Vladek. There can be no doubt that Vladek shaped much of Art's life.
In fact, it is quite likely that being a cartoonist was done solely to irritate his Father by bucking the conventional norms that were expected. Vladek might have propelled Art to have a nontraditional occupation.
However, it often seems that Art is as willing as Vladek to start a controversy. There are even times when I found myself sympathizing with Vladek and angry with Art. When Vladek tries to return his food at the store, there is an element of sympathy for such a weak, sad, broken down old man. However, if we look at Vladek's relationship with Mala we see Vladek is truly the source of the conflicts and not Art.
Art Spiegelman has a very strong personality and is in conflict with his Father for much of MAUS. We see that Art is torn by a desire to spend as little time as possible with his Father while still learning everything that Vladek can remember about the Holocaust. After examining the relationship, I found myself a little annoyed at Art. It seemed like he was being overly tough on his Father. However, if we look at the relationship between Vladek and Mala we come to see that the responsibility for the problem lies much more with Vladek than with Art. This is not to say that Art is without blame. He certainly could have tried to make more of an effort at reducing tensions with his Father. But, there can be no coincidence that there are problems between Vladek and Mala also.
Vladek is convinced that Mala is only after his money. He becomes obsessed with this belief to the point that is drives her out of the house. When Mala runs off the Florida to escape the negativity of Vladek we only then learn how much she has had to put up with at home. What little time Art is with his Father reconfirms the image of a man that is almost impossible to deal with. The excessive frugality, the argumentative attitude, the disturbed attention to details and precision all point to the struggle Mala must have endured.
Any doubts about the integrity of Mala are erased when she returns to Rego Park to help care for Vladek. There was no reason she had to do this. It could be argued that she did it only for the money since she made Vladek accept some financial agreements before she would come home. I would contend Mala made her demands out of necessity. No one can blame her for not returning to the house as it was. She needed to take some concrete steps to ensure her sanity. Out of this need rose the specific financial agreements. Even if it was nothing more than a business deal, Vladek got much more than he paid for.
Through Mala we see Vladek was the dominant influence that Art holds him out to be.