In family life, it is often to find a disputatious father-son relationship despite paternal love due to other existing reasons. The lack of a rhyming relationship sometimes occurs due to one of the two being rigid on their other expectations. At other times it results from someone trying to change the family’s narrative and break from the perceived usual way of doing things. In the story, Maus, Artie Spiegelman, Vladek’s son, narrates his father’s World War II survival tale in a comic form through which he brings out a modern-day father-son relationship.
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Maus, which is written as a conversation by Vladek to his son on the life pre-war, during the war, and after the war, includes several scenes that highlight the tense father-son relationship. It comes out that besides the relationship between the two and frequent meetings, they are antagonists in the making. A keen examination of the book reveals that the primary reason behind Artie’s and Vladek’s divergence personality and attitude emanates from their past life experiences and personal guilt.
Past life experience resulted in a tough relationship between the father and son, Vladek having gone through the Holocaust from the peaceful era to the war tore era and the aftermath, and on the other hand, Artie was born just after the war. The effects of their past life experiences on their personalities are clearly illustrated in the text because, despite the Maus’ scripting, Artie gets the chance to build and improve his relationship with his father, but they fail to relate to their pain and often conflicts. The Holocaust altered Vladek’s life, and as illustrated in the second volume, page ninety, where Artie believes that his father did not completely survive the Holocaust, that leads to their differences. Vladek does not want to remember about the Holocaust, thus burns Anja’s diaries as evident in the Maus 1(159), but because Artie has no experience of the sort, he blames his father for burning the diaries resulting to widening their differences.
Vladek insists on cleanliness and ensuring that things are kept in order, a trait from the text he had before marrying and a trait that Artie does not possess; the past acquired trait difference increases their arguments when they should be reconciling. Artie drops a cigarette to remain, which he ends up collecting to ensure they are on par with his father after he notes that it is not okay to litter the place. The trait difference is further advanced when Valdek throws his son’s old coat in the dustbin and replaces it with a new one. Artie shows dissatisfaction and laments over the act, which he believes is true after seeing his coat in the waste bin.
Personal guilt has also greatly contributed to differing Artie’s and his father’s personality, which further fractures the bond between them. Vladek regrets losing his firstborn in the war, yet their friend’s son, whom they had proposed to send their son together with the first time, survived the war. The guilt of losing a son consumes him to the extent of referring to Artie by his brother’s name while in their conversation, and that does not turn well with Artie, who feels his brother should be alive instead. Artie feels that he has not been a good son to his father, and despite living close by, they did not see each other often until when Artie was visiting for the narration of the book, during which he avoids other tasks, and they do not use the chance to reconcile and learn from each other.
Artie refuses to help his father fix the drain in the roof, and he insists he would rather feel guilty that travel to help his father in the task (Jensen 1). Artie insists that his father should hire a person to fix the roof, but Vladek argues that money does not grow in the grass showing its divergence. During his next visit, Artie asks to help his father out in any chores due to guilt, despite saying that he chooses to be an Artist because he could not compete with his father. Vladek also feels guilt for surviving the Holocaust, which many of his friends did not, affecting his relationship with his son. His son later visits a psychiatrist, but it turns out that he was not psychologically affected by the Holocaust.
From the illustrations above, it is evident that past life experience and guilt play a great role in widening the gap between Artie’s and Vladek’s personality when they should be mending the drift. Most current Vladek’s personality is linkable to the Holocaust experiences, which has affected the relationship with his son in a great way. Notably, the Vladek, who was wealthy and spent his money without any limitation, comes out of the war as a stingy man to the extent of climbing his roof to fix a leaky drain going against his son’s suggestion of hiring a person to fix the roof; which makes his son fill guilty and request to offer a helping hand later.
Several opportunities present themselves to understand each other, but Vladek’s guilt of coming out of the Holocaust and his friends not surviving and losing his son over the war period makes him gain a different personality from his son, who is also consumed with guilt. Through guilt, Artie feels that he could have been in the war with his family to experience what they went through. It is notable that Artie later wants to reconcile with the past and overcome guilt and feeling that he has not been a good son towards the end of the book. Artie has not been through the Holocaust like his father. However, it is indisputable that he is directly affected by the experience since the change in his parent’s personality by the war lead to a different parenting style, which has greatly affected his personality, making it different from his father’s, thus the difficulty in them getting along despite having several chances to learn from each other and change to be reading from the same script during the narration of the story.
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