A Postmodernist Reading of Spiegelman's Maus

An element of tension runs through both volumes of Art Spiegelman’s Maus. The two narratives running parallel to each other throughout Maus, namely those of Art and his father Vladek, converge at the end of volume two in a shaky synthesis. The two narratives, do not, however, totally reconcile so well with each other so as to go from thesis to antithesis to synthesis. The last few panels of Maus reveal, instead, that biography and history are messy and full of conflict, and that no amount of “leaving the past behind” can erase some of the effects that the one narrative has on the other.

Art, while recounting the past of his father, also punctuates the story by revealing the interviewing process that took place with he and his father in Rego Park and Florida. In Vladek’s reminiscing, we get the image of a person who is resourceful, clever, loving and who possesses a strong survivalist streak. In the portion of the comic where “Art” the character is involved, we see a weakened, paranoid, miserly, stubborn and fairly racist old man: “It’s not even to compare the shvarsters to the Jews!” (Spiegelman, 99). Throughout the portion where Art speaks as a character, he notes the striking difference between the man he knows as his father...

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