how does Art Spiegleman's understanding of Vladek and Anja's past help or harm his relationship with Vladek in the present


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As Art visits his father more and more, their relationship begins to change. In previous chapters, most of their communications focused around Vladek's retelling of his Holocaust experiences. Lately, though, their conversations have been getting more personal. At the beginning of Chapter 6, Vladek begins to complain again about his relationship with Mala, and Art suggests that they see a marriage counselor. This kind of honest assessment and advice has been uncharacteristic to date, and seems to be a sign that Art's frequent visits are leading to a more positive and open relationship.

However, as this chapter comes to a close, the relationship is strained almost to the point of breaking when Vladek tells his son that he burned Anja's diaries shortly after her death. And to add further insult to the tragedy, Vladek recalls that Anja once told him that she hoped Art would read them one day. At this, Art explodes at his father, calling him a "murderer." Though he apologizes, he leaves soon thereafter and again calls Vladek a "murderer" under his breath.

As seen in the "Prisoner on the Hell Planet" comic in the previous chapter, Art feels a terrible sense of guilt over his mother's suicide, and blames himself for not being a loving and attentive son. At the end of this chapter, however, Art seems to blame his father for his mother's death. There is a subtle difference between these two forms of blame. Art blames himself for his mother's physical death, but he blames his father for the murder of Anja's memory.