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Maus Short Summary

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Maus is a graphic novel by the cartoonist Art Spiegelman. It was published in volumes between the years 1980 and 1991. It is based on interviews between Spiegelman and his father about his father’s life since he was a survivor during the holocaust as a Jew in Poland. In the book, Jews are represented as mice, and Germans take the form of cats.

The Novel’s Brief Synopsis

Maus starts with the author arriving at his childhood home to document his father’s memories regarding the holocaust. Vladek, Art’s father, started as a young bloke in Poland before WW1. He met a lady, Anja Zylberberg, in Poland, where they became acquainted with one another and eventually got married.

They bear a son called Richeau, and then Anja becomes ill with depression. She is to be taken to Czechoslovakia for treatment. They get to witness the Nazism and anti-Semitism in Europe during the journey but are lucky not to experience it. When the wife gets better, they go back to their country only to find that Vladek’s workshop has become vandalized. He then enlists as a soldier for his country but is unfortunately captured and imprisoned. Vladek is later freed from the camp and goes back to the state of Poland only to find Germans occupying his land and him losing the factory in the process.

During that time, Jews, including Anja’s grandparents, are taken to camps from their hometowns. Vladek’s family is also captured and forced to stay in the camps, while Vladek and Anja are sent to Srodula with other Jews. Richeau is sent to stay at relatives for his safety, while Anja and Vldek hide to escape from the hostility. Unluckily, the two are found by smugglers and are handed to the Germans.

They are separated at this point. The Germans take Anja to Birkineau, and Vladek is taken to Auschwitz. Life is difficult for both of them. The Germans then choose to execute Jews in some of the prison camps. Vladek, together with some other Jews, is lucky since the Germans flee due to the fear of Americans as they are being transferred for their execution. Anja and Vladek later reunite when he goes back to Sosnowiec, and they start another family.

Anja kills herself in the year 1968, and Vladek chooses to remarry. Art, their son, seems to be angry about Anja’s passing and seems to direct some of that anger towards Vladek. Furthermore, Spiegelman learns that his father destroyed all of Anja’s journals, and he becomes even angrier.

In the second book, Spiegelman focuses on his thoughts regarding the holocaust and the various discussions he had with his psychotherapist regarding his father. Spiegelman has a spouse named Francoise, and they go on vacation. Mala, Vladek’s second wife, and Vladek split up and then later reunited. Vladek falls ill and stays in the hospital where he receives treatment. The book ends with Vladek talking to Spiegelman about how Vladek reunited with Anja in Sosnowiec.

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