Art Spiegelman’s Maus II is a book that tells more than the story of one family’s struggle to live thought the Holocaust. It gives us a look into the psyche of a survivor’s child and how the Holocaust affected him and many other generations of people who were never there at all. Maus II gives the reader a peek into the psyche of Art Spiegelman and the affects of having two parents that survived the Holocaust had on him. Spiegelman demonstrates the affects of being a survivor’s child in many ways throughout the book. Examining some of these will give us a better understanding of what it was like to be a part of the Holocaust.
In this frame Spiegelman displays his anger with being compared to his died brother, Richieu. His aunt poisoned Richieu because she did not want the Nazis to take him to the concentration camps. The only thing his parents had to remember him by was a picture that hung on their bedroom wall.
Spiegelman believed that his parents look at the picture and thought that Richieu was the perfect child. Richieu could do no wrong in their eyes and would have made his parents proud; unlike Art, Richieu would have made all the right choices. He would have gotten the right job and married the right girl. No matter what Art did, he felt that he was a failure compared to his brother.
Another example of Art’s psyche coming out in the book is at his psychiatrist’s, Pavel, office. Pavel is a survivor like his father and mother where, he helps Art to deal with issue that have come from being the child of a survivor.
Art has a hard time dealing with the feeling that no matter what he accomplishes it will never equal the fact his parents survived Auschwitz. Pavel tries to explain to Art that he should not feel guilt for not being there, because that is not his fault. Art struggle with this feeling throughout the book. The feeling that his mother and father did this great thing by surviving, but the truth of it is they were just the lucky. In the camps the killing was random and either one could have been killed at any minute, so the truth is they just got lucky to make it through.
The last scene in the book is a very important one, it give a good look in the mind of Spiegelman. It takes place in Vladek’s bedroom after Art and Vladek finish taping a conversation. By this point in the book Vladek is becoming more and more disoriented caused by age and his failing health. His wife, Mala, is very worried about him; he is losing his way and starting to forget things. During the conversation Vladek calls Art by his brother’s, Richieu, name. Shortly after they talk Vladek passes away.
This scene show us that finally, right before his father’s death, Art realizes at he is not inferior to Richieu. Vladek calls Art Richieu because he is proud of what his son has done and see no difference between the two. Art spent his whole life believing that his parents loved Richieu because he was the perfect child, never thinking that his parents loved him just as much. It took the time he and his father spend together talking about the Holocaust for them to grow close enough for Art to realize that his father did love just as much as he had Richieu.
From a feeling anger for a brother he never know Spiegelman’s psyche is deeply affected by the Holocaust. Even though he was not a part of it himself, the Holocaust played a huge role in his life.