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maus

In Maus I by Art Spiegelman, there is a part where he [the author] starts comparing the stories of the protagonist of Maus and the Prisoner on the hell planet, by making the stories extremely similar to each other. Art Spieglman tries to let the reader know that Art felt extremely guilty about his mother’s suicide and is a prisoner of his mother’s actions.   I think that Art uses the comic book of finally speaking to his father about the tragedy that struck both of them even if Vladek just happened to find it (Spiegelman, Maus I 104). This is an important part of the book because it shows you how vulnerable and lost Art really was at the time of his mother’s suicide. That part of the book could explain why Art was always a little off or why he was in the crazy house because throughout the whole comic he is wearing his prisoner suit. The lower panels are all jail bars and through them Art is yelling at his dead mother through the jail bars. This could possibly signify that for the rest of his life he felt like a prisoner to society and what they would think of him and also what his family would think.     

            The first idea in the comic book is that the comic is eerily similar to the maus book, this portion of the book is also the only time he draws humans and not animals. The comic book is written by Art and had made Vladek extremely upset to see this, maybe like he [Vladek] was reliving every gruesome detail of his wife’s suicide (Spiegelman, Maus I 104). The second panel on the page says many phrases to describe the gory scene of Arts mother lying lifeless in the tub, this second panel I think helps describe why she might have chosen this end. The diagnoses in the top of the panel was “menopausal depression” then it says “Hitler did it!” in a way I think that since the whole depression thing does not have a person to point a finger to, he went with the easiest person to accuse of making her choose this heinous act for herself. In a way I do believe that when you go through a horrible hardship like the one Anja went through maybe things get a little messed up in their head and that is why she chose to end those horrible memories. I also think that the reason why Art used people instead of animals is because it is more relatable for a person to have these depressing feelings, instead of an animal and also the guilt Art feels when he is face to face with his family. It would not have been the same if he would have kept drawing mice. Another reason why he might have used humans as his characters so Vladek would not feel it was exactly like his wife dying even though it was pretty obvious. So in between trying to spare his father’s feelings and also maybe masking the tragedy for himself as well. 
            The second main point of the comic is that on most of the panels you can tell that he [Art] is overcome with guilt because he was not the best son he could have been. In a way I feel like he was remembering all these horrible memories to punish himself.  In the page above you can see that there is not one panel where Art’s face is not in shock or devastated in some way. I think Art felt as if his mother’s suicide was his fault and that other people thought it was his fault as well. The third panel begins with his mother looking very weird at him and saying his name and him with his head down almost as if he wanted to shut her out completely or as if he could not stand her voice anymore. I think in some way us younger people tend to do that to our parents I know I did, now that I look back at it I don’t even know why they would annoy me they just would and I feel as if Art was going through something similar and then life played him a horrible joke. The next panel sees Art’s mom asking him if he still loves her he disregards her and basically tells her sure as he turns away from her. The last panel on that row shows a devastated Art saying “She walked out and closed the door!” on the side the word “Clik!” is also there almost as if he could turn back time and tell her yes that he did love her. That last part gets to me because I have been there when someone special asks you something and you simply ignore them and go with a generic yea or sure to get them off your back. This could have been many of the reasons why Art is really guilty throughout this panel and also the rest of the comic. Art has many looks about him in the panel but all of them say one thing excruciating pain and guilt.

            The last main point of the comic is that Art feels like a prisoner in life at that point in his life. In this part I think Art is trying to say that suicide does not just change or affects the person who commits it, there are also consequences to the people who are left behind to pick up the pieces of what is left of their lives. On the last panel in the page Art screams out “You murdered me mommy and left me here to take the rap!!!” (Spiegelman, Maus I 103), which just adds more emphasis that he felt like everyone blamed him regardless of anything. The prison bars are all the bottom three panels so that makes it seem that he feels like a prisoner. I think in a way he drew the prison bars all on the bottom like a symbol of that’s where his life will always go to because that decision is a horrible permanent choice.

            In conclusion I think that the page I chose to analyze has a strong message in its content.  I think Art Spieglman tried to let the reader know that Art felt extremely guilty about his mother’s suicide and is a prisoner of his mother’s actions. The prisoner on hell planet comic also gives insight into the reaction of Vladik on his wife’s suicide and showed both of them in their rawest realest form, in a way I think that is why he drew them as humans and let go of the disguise of the mouse. The panels I saw or the way I took it was like the stages of grief in the beginning of the page he is trying to regain his thought process of what had just happened, then the second part he was feeling an overwhelming amount of guilt about everything, and finally in the bottom of the page he shows how angry he is at his mother for leaving him with the stigma of being the cause of her death.

 

Work Cited

Spiegelman, Art. Maus I. New York: Pantheon, 1986. Print.

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