Maus I And Ii Objects

2141 words - 9 pages

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English 45CObjective HauntingAfter thirteen years of dedicated research and constant redrafting, Art Spiegelman created his two- volume masterpiece: Maus. As the child of a Holocaust survivor, Spiegelman1 sought to embody the Jewish experience in graphic novel form. Little did he know, the information he dug up would haunt him forever. Spiegelman subsequently incorporated the story of his research process with his father's tale of survival, adding a mixture of objects to symbolize the past's effect on the present. Throughout Maus, Spiegelman uses objects - even those which are physically destroyed - to signify the permanence of a traumatic past that permeates ...view middle of the document...

In addition, Artie is involuntarily dragged into the Jewish experience as his damaged arm is compared to a Nazi salute. Artie's physical defect is thus related to Vladek's haunted past, symbolizing transgenerational physical suffering. The second instance of spilled pills occurs when Vladek begins telling his World War II experience. Vladek attributes the spill to his bad eyes, one taken out due to hemorrhage and glaucoma and the other limited by a cataract. (I.39). Glaucoma, an ocular disease characterized by high-pressure fluid buildup in the eye and subsequent blindness, can be caused by emotional stress and health conditions such as heart problems and diabetes. Since Vladek has experienced the mentioned causes of glaucoma from surviving the Holocaust, Spiegelman implies that Vladek's eyes were physically damaged from past trauma. The medicine is spilled because of Vladek's poor eyes, suggesting that a physical haunting continues, perhaps symbolically, to hurt his present health since Vladek is forced to waste time recounting his pills.Transgenerational physical haunting is demonstrated by Spiegelman's use of Artie's cigarettes to symbolize Artie's unknowing inheritance of Jewish history and the effects of a painful past on Vladek's present health. In one of the first interviews with his father, Artie drops cigarette ashes on the carpet, creating an immediate connection between Vladek's past and Artie's inherited present as the ashes are reminiscent of cremated Jews. (I.52). This interpretation is bolstered by the image of a crematorium in Vladek's story penetrating its frame and entering right under Artie's cigarette. (Spiegelman II.69). Ambiguity is created by the positioning of the smoke in the scene since it could be either from Artie's cigarette or the crematorium or both. The mingling of the two smokes suggests a link between the burning of Jews during the Holocaust and Artie's inheritance of Jewish history as he burns his cigarette. Furthermore, the trails of smoke from Artie's cigarette are almost identical to the smoke coming from "Gas chamber and crematorium II" on the back cover of the second novel. (II). Transgenerational haunting is thus depicted through Artie's cigarettes, which are physically poisonous and carcinogenic and symbolically representative of a traumatic Jewish history. The cigarettes physically harm both Vladek and Artie as Vladek states "Better you shouldn't smoke: for you it's terrible, and for me with my shortness of breath, it's also no good to be near." (II.20). Physical haunting thus occurs for both father and son; Artie inherits a past of Jewish suffering - represented by the cigarette - that damages his body whereas Vladek's shortness of breath is exacerbated by the smoke. Repetition of smoke in Vladek's face serves as a constant reminder of his physical haunting as a result of a painful past, especially as Artie forces him to retell the Holocaust experience. (I.84). The cigarette and its smoke collectively...

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