MAUS

Primary characters

Art Spiegelman
Art[b] (born 1948)[26] is a cartoonist and intellectual.[3] Art is presented as egocentric,[27] neurotic and obsessive, angry and full of self-pity.[3] He deals with his own traumas and those inherited from his parents by seeking psychiatric help,[10] which continued after the book was completed.[28] He has a strained relationship with his father, Vladek,[29] by whom he feels dominated.[3] At first, he displays little sympathy for his father's hardships, but shows more as the narrative unfolds.[27]
Vladek Spiegelman
Vladek[c] (1906–1982)[31] is a Polish Jew who survived the Holocaust, then moved to the U.S. in the early 1950s. Speaking broken English,[32] he is presented as miserly, anal retentive, anxious and obstinate—traits that may have helped him survive the camps, but which greatly annoy his family. He displays racist attitudes, as when Françoise picks up an African American hitchhiker, whom he fears will rob them.[33] He shows little insight into his own racist comments about others.[24]
Mala Spiegelman
Mala (1917–2007)[34] is Vladek's second wife. Vladek makes her feel that she can never live up to Anja.[35] Though she too is a survivor and speaks with Art throughout the book, Art makes no attempt to learn of her Holocaust experience.[36]
Anja Spiegelman
Also a Polish Jew who has survived the Holocaust, Anja[d] (1912–1968)[31] is Art's mother and Vladek's first wife. Nervous, compliant, and clinging, she has her first nervous breakdown after giving birth to her first son.[37] She sometimes told Art about the Holocaust while he was growing up, although his father did not want him to know about it. She killed herself by slitting her wrists in a bathtub in May 1968,[38] and left no suicide note.[39]
Françoise Mouly
Françoise (born 1955)[26] is married to Art. She is French, and converted to Judaism[40] to please Art's father. It is unclear to Spiegelman whether she should be represented as a Jewish mouse, a French frog, or some other animal.[41]

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