How/why is the relationship between Art and Vladek critical to the narrative and to Art's sense of identity in Maus?

Maus tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler's Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father's story.

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Their story is critical because up until the point Art begins this project with his father there is very little understanding between the two of them. To be quite frank, they don't have a relationship and are strangers to one another. That's what makes Maus so special. Not only are we as readers educated about the horrors that Vladek lived through, but his son is educated as well. Imagine, knowing your parents had lived through the Holocaust but never understanding it for what it was. This is a very special story.