Guilt in Maus 12th Grade

There is an enigmatic quality to Art Spiegelman’s survival guilt, a guilt which presents itself subtly in Book I and much more palpably in Book II. This ambiguity, so to speak, stems from a perplexing notion. That is, how could one of the only characters in Maus not to have been in the Holocaust have survival guilt? How, out of all those portrayed throughout the work who watched their friends and families slaughtered, could Art Spiegelman be the one who is guilty for surviving? It is, ironically enough, the fact that Spiegelman was not in the Holocaust that violently facilitates his survival guilt. His assumed inability to grasp the genocide, combined with the daunting task of representing the millions of unheard victims, creates guilt within him for not being there, which is only augmented by Vladek’s burning of Anja’s diary. Of course, this guilt is also manifested prominently in the ghost of his brother. In the end, he could never be Richieu, benevolently set in stone, and he would always represent that which the father could not have back—his family.

While this discourse will deal mostly within the confines of Book II, it is important to note the catalyst in Book I that not only magnifies the guilt felt by Spiegelman, but...

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