Old Man Vladek

The man himself.

Maus has the interesting effect of a parallel story going on. Vladek tells the story and as he does he antagonizes Art. This makes for what I feel is an absolutely fantastic dynamic. The story weaves in and out of the narrative of the holocaust to show this character we’re rooting for in one area being a cantankerous old man in the narrative of the contemporary times. The disconnect of rooting for him in one area while being quite off-put by them the next moment is something I deal with in my father. As much as I don’t always get along with my father, I still love him, and I imagine Art is the same way, otherwise he wouldn’t put up with all his father’s issues. For instance, Vladek is always asking Art to come and help him do this or fix that. He constantly criticises the labors Art does, save it seems his comics. He expects what seems an impossible amount from his son. Even with all this, even when Vladek tells Art that he has burned Anja’s journals, after Art’s initial outburst and exclamation of, “Murderer!” he still apologizes to his father. We even see he still holds it against his father, yet he comes back to help him. He flies down to Florida. He helps his father return home for a hospital visit and stays by his side when he’s unwell. Vladek puts Art through a tremendous amount of hardship as a father, acting an excellent antagonist, yet you can’t help but put up with him, especially as the reader. He went through hell in the holocaust. Even with him getting more demanding, you’re hearing about how his life was worse and worse. The see-saw of pity and irritation balance out and you stick with Vladek because you’re invested in him. This duality lets you explore the character deeper while not being as offputting as he might otherwise be and I think Mr. Spiegalman showed tremendous restraint and thoughtfulness in his portrayal of his father.

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2 thoughts on “Old Man Vladek

  1. I like how you explain his love for his father despite every wrong thing his father does. Later when he listens to the tape of his father and it plays the recording of his father complaining about Mala, and how Art becomes more and more angry until he just YELLS at his father to bring back something in his memory he has tried his entire life to forget. I think that is a good show of how guilty and distressed Art feels, yet loving. In that, though Art attacks his father for his wrong-doings, he still understands later that he is asking something that is very painful for his father. It feels sometimes his father ignores him possibly on purpose just to keep away from the topic a little longer, but in the end, cares for his son (and his son’s story) enough to open up. Good job going deeper into the characters with logical explanations.

  2. This reminds me of how me and my father’s relationship is. We have never been close since my parents were seperated when i was young. When we moved to texas we barely ever talked but even though my dad has done some disagreable things that love is still there which is much like Art and his father. Art still cares about his father even though He was upset with him so much that he called his father a “murderer.” It makes it very hard to forgive people when they do things you don’t agree with, but there comes a point when an understanding comes, and then forgiveness is allowed to happen. Art forgives his father when he realizes this. so i think you have explained their relationship very well and showing the depth of it. I had a personal connection with it so that is why this particular blog stuck out to me.

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