83 pages 2 hours read

Art Spiegelman


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

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Part 1, Chapters 3-4Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 1

Part 1, Chapter 3 Summary: “Prisoner of War”

Art visits his father more often to record his story but must navigate his domineering attitude and arguments with Mala. Vladek chastises Art for leaving cigarette ashes on the floor and later throws away his coat in favor of a tacky windbreaker.

Vladek enters the front line with limited training and hesitations about killing. Hiding in a riverbank, Vladek shoots a camouflaged Nazi. After the Germans overwhelm his unit, he avoids a beating by telling them in German that he was shooting in the air. He later identifies the soldier he hit as dead.

The Nazis take Vladek to a POW camp near Nuremburg, Germany, where they keep him and other Jewish soldiers in unheated tents separate from other prisoners. The guards mock Vladek’s delicate hands and make him complete tasks under impossible deadlines. To cope, Vladek exercises, prays, plays with a makeshift chess set, conserves food for trading, and writes to Anja through the International Red Cross. Six weeks later, Vladek volunteers for German terraforming projects, which require brutal labor in exchange for better food and shelter.

One night Vladek dreams of his grandfather telling him that his freedom will come during the holy time of Parshas Truma. Three months later, on Parshas Truma, the Germans release the Jews from the camp.

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By Art Spiegelman