The Grapes of Wrath

8. Why does Art Spiegelman portray the paths as a swastika? How does this image express Vladek and Anja’s situation? [Include image on bottom left, p. 125]


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When Vladek and Anja must move around in hiding from the Germans, it seen that they walk a Swastika path as a symbol that though they are not captured and roaming “free,” the Germans are still following and looming over them, they are still in control, suggesting that wherever they go, they cannot escape the terror of the Holocaust camps. The silhouette of a factory-like building is seen in the distance, suggestive of the crematoriums of Auschwitz, silently stating that all roads lead to the ovens.

The Swastika symbol is also seen in the background of some of the beginning frames, and in the background of one of the last frame to show that the Germans are in command, in domination, though Vladek and Anja have survived all other trials and tribulations. The Swastika is a motif throughout the novel foreshadowing the bad things to come. The first time the Swastika is noticed is when Vladek and Anja are on the train to their “honeymoon.” The train is symbolic of trying to escape, but never quite succeeding. Everywhere the Jewish go on the train, they encounter the predators, the Nazis.