83 pages 2 hours read

Art Spiegelman


Nonfiction | Graphic Novel/Book | Adult | Published in 1986

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Part 1, Chapters 1-2Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 1

Part 1, Chapter 1 Summary: “The Sheik”

As a child in the Rego Park neighborhood of New York City, Art Spiegelman falls while roller skating with his friends. When he tells his father, Vladek, about how they didn’t stop to help him, Vladek tells Art that only starvation would show who someone’s real fiends are.

Now an underground cartoonist in his 30s, Art visits Vladek for the first time in two years to learn about his experience as a Holocaust survivor. Vladek is elderly and weak after two heart attacks, the loss of his first wife, Anja Zylberberg, to suicide, and a contentious relationship with his second wife, Mala. Despite believing that no one wants to hear “such stories” (14), Vladek recounts his life in Poland while pedaling as part of his heart regimen.

A handsome, multilingual textiles merchant with dreams of moving to America, Vladek meets Anja through his cousin. The two agree to marry after bonding over their knowledge of English. There are obstacles, however: Vladek discovers Anja’s anxiety medication and verifies its use through a friend. Meanwhile, Vladek’s former lover causes a scene at his apartment and tells Anja that he is only marrying her for her family’s fortune. After convincing Anja of his intentions, Vladek moves to Sosnowiec in 1936 and marries her the following year.

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By Art Spiegelman