83 pages 2 hours read

Art Spiegelman


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

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The Value of Bonds

Maus begins with Vladek telling a young Art that friendship is fickle. This echoes a similar sentiment that he shares with Anja when they meet in the concentration camps: “They just worry about getting a bigger share of your food” (216). However, the bonds Vladek builds before and during the war play a key role in his survival.

The most prominent is the bond between Vladek and Anja. Their relationship faces multiple tests even before the war: his ex-girlfriend’s sabotage attempt, Anja’s association with the communist group, and her postpartum depression. Vladek takes these issues seriously and even leaves his job to stay with her in Czechoslovakia. While in hiding, it is he who goes out for food to protect Anja from discovery, and he arranges to appease Anja’s kapo and move her closer to him. While there are rifts—Anja’s refusal to place Richieu into hiding earlier and Vladek’s insistence about the smuggling plan both prove disastrous—their love for each other is crucial to their survival. As Anja tells him, “Just seeing you again gives me strength (216).

Vladek’s bonds with others, however, are shakier, as he describes World War II Poland as a place where friendships and family ties mean little.

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By Art Spiegelman