Maus Ch.5

How does the comic strip "Prisoner on the Hell Planet" depict Artie and his family? How did you feel on learning that Artie has been hospitalized for a nervous breakdown? Why do you think he has chosen to draw himself dressed in a prison uniform? What is the effect of seeing these mice suddenly represented as human beings?

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In the comic, the year is 1968. Art is 20, recently released from the state mental hospital and living with his parents. He arrives to find his father lying on the floor, a complete wreck. In accordance with Jewish custom, they sleep together on the floor, Vladek moaning through the night. Art is consumed by guilt. He thinks back to the last time he saw his mother, when she entered his room and asked him whether he still loved her. "Sure," he replied, and turned away. The comic ends with a message to his dead mother: "Congratulations, you've committed the perfect crime...You murdered me, Mommy, and left me here to take the rap."

Vladek walks into the room, and tells Art that the comic brought back painful memories of Anja, even though he is always thinking about her anyway. He isn't angry, only sad. Art and Vladek walk together to the bank, and Vladek continues the story of his Holocaust experience.

I was shocked to find out that Art had spent time in an institution. The fact that he depicted himself in prison uniform might infer that his time in the institution made him feel like a prisoner rather than a patient. Perhaps, it means that he is a prisoner of his past. Seeing the mice portrayed as human beings reminds the reader that he characters Art is depicting are real.


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