Survival In Art Spiegelman's The Complete Maus

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Art Spiegelman’s “The Complete Maus” utilises the unorthodox medium of a graphic novel to explore Vladek’s survival of the Holocaust. The novel suggests Vladek’s immense resourcefulness is owed to his survival of the Holocaust, but it is ultimately his more added luck that sanctions him to survive. This is exhibited through Pavel when he verbally expresses “[it] was random!” suggesting that the best people did not survive the Holocaust nor did the worst die. It was solely dependent on their luck and fate.

Throughout the novel, Art portrays Vladek as “present-minded and resourceful” individual whilst endeavouring to battle the challenges presented by the Holocaust. This is demonstrated through Vladek exploiting every situation that could potentially
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Art portrays Vladek as a stringy and cheap individual, although his personality or characteristics have not changed, they have been indefinitely altered due to the horrors and trauma invoked by the Holocaust. Vladek’s much-loved money and fortune are slowly diminishing shown when he suffers from “physical pain” to lose “even a nickel”, suggesting Vladek is scared at the possibility of becoming broke, or perhaps losing what he ultimately worked for during his life in Europe. Furthermore, Art suggests that Vladek “didn’t survive”, possibly suggesting that although he may have physically survived the Holocaust, his soul died in Auschwitz. Therefore, Vladek’s Physical survival of the Holocaust is clear, but as we unfold the novel, we witness the fact that he may exist in the present but lives in the past while shaping the person who he is after the war.

Even though Vladek could not control his fate or luck, he was determined to make sure of his survival. However, his extreme resourcefulness ultimately was not accountable for his survival, instead, it was his luck that “saved [Vladek’s] life.” Art’s characterisation of Vladek after the war suggests a greater profound depiction of Vladek before and after the war, intimating the depth and the coverage of the

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