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Maus Essay

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Maus Essay
Finding Yourself While Losing Yourself
When learning of the devastations of the Holocaust we are often only offered one side of the story, one view of the event, one account of the pain—that of the direct survivor. However, the effects of trauma live on forever, and stay with people even when they are not first-hand victims. In particular, there are children of Holocaust survivors or second-generation survivors whom face enormous difficulties as they come to terms with the horrendous plights faced by their ancestors. For Art Spiegelman, author of Maus, this was the struggle. Growing up with survivor parents exposed him to the presence and absence of the Holocaust in his daily life, causing confusion and great amounts of self-imposed guilt and blame. This havoc led to an underdeveloped identity early on—a lost and prohibited childhood, a murdered one. The effect of having survivor parents was evident in Art’s search for his identity throughout Maus, from the memories of his parent’s past and through the individual ways in which each parent “murdered” his search to discover meaning. The Holocaust was so entwined with Art that it had to factor into his identity, however with such complexity Art was at a loss. With such an issue revolving around his life and those who raised him, he could not figure out how he fit into the horrors of the past along with the rest of his family. While aware of what happened during the Holocaust, Artie felt compelled to know what specifically happened to his parents in order to construct his own identity Artie saw his parents as murderers because they forced him to live in the shadow of the Holocaust. Moreover, he was never able to escape that influence, which was an inevitable fixture in his life. Artie lived in the shadow of his deceased perfect brother, Richelieu, as well as the shadow of all who died in the Holocaust. Art’s parent’s guilt over Richelieu’s death affected how they raised their next son. They were unable to

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