Maus

Arthur (Artie) Spiegelman Character Analysis

A young Jewish-American man who works to write a comic book about his father’s experience during the Holocaust. Artie struggles with feelings of anger and resentment toward his parents, Vladek and Anja, as well as feelings of guilt. Though self-centered and often unkind, Artie is also curious and introspective. He is concerned about pursuing his work in the most ethical way possible, and thinks deeply about his own relationship to the stories Vladek shares with him, as well as his responsibility to his family and the larger Jewish community in telling those stories. Vladek and Artie have had a tense, difficult relationship since Artie’s childhood, which was only exacerbated by his mother’s suicide about ten years before he began work on Maus. But Artie develops a more generous and loving attitude toward Vladek as they progress through hours of visits and interviews. Their conversations allow Artie to better understand the forces that shaped Vladek’s life, and to forgive some of his shortcomings as a parent. There is little separation between Artie in the book and Arthur Spiegelman, the author of Maus, who shares an essentially identical family history and relationships with Artie. One can think of them as being the same.

Arthur (Artie) Spiegelman Quotes in Maus

The Maus quotes below are all either spoken by Arthur (Artie) Spiegelman or refer to Arthur (Artie) Spiegelman. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Holocaust and the Responsibility of its Survivors Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Pantheon edition of Maus published in 1993.
Part 1, Chapter 1 Quotes

Vladek: But this what I just told you — about Lucia and so — I don’t want you should write about this in your book … It has nothing to do with Hitler, with the Holocaust!

Artie: But Pop — it’s great material. It makes everything more real — more human. I want to tell your story, the way it really happened.

Vladek: But this isn’t so proper, so respectful … I can tell you other stories, but such private things I don’t want you should mention.

Related Characters: Arthur (Artie) Spiegelman (speaker), Vladek Spiegelman (speaker), Lucia Greenberg
Page Number: I.23
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part 1, Chapter 3 Quotes

This is for me a very important date. I checked later on a calendar. It was this parsha on the week I got married to Anja … And this was the parsha in 1948, after the war, on the week you were born. And so it came out to be this parsha you sang on the Saturday of your bar mitzvah!

Related Characters: Arthur (Artie) Spiegelman (speaker), Vladek Spiegelman (speaker)
Page Number: I.59
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part 1, Chapter 5 Quotes

He wants me to go help him fix his roof or something. Shit! Even as a kid I hated helping him around the house. He loved showing off how handy he was … and proving that anything I did was all wrong. He made me completely neurotic about fixing stuff. I mean, I didn’t even own a hammer until we moved into this place! One reason I became an artist was that he thought it was impractical — just a waste of time … it was an area where I wouldn’t have to compete with him.

Related Characters: Arthur (Artie) Spiegelman (speaker), Vladek Spiegelman, Françoise Mouly
Page Number: I.97
Explanation and Analysis:

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In 1968 my mother killed herself … she left no note!

Related Characters: Arthur (Artie) Spiegelman (speaker), Anja (Anna) Spiegelman
Page Number: I.100
Explanation and Analysis:

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Well, Mom, if you’re listening … Congratulations! … You’ve committed the perfect crime … You put me here … shorted all my circuits … cut my nerve endings … and crossed my wires! … You murdered me, Mommy, and you left me here to take the rap!!!

Related Characters: Arthur (Artie) Spiegelman (speaker), Anja (Anna) Spiegelman
Page Number: I.103
Explanation and Analysis:

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Artie: Wouldn’t they have helped you even if you couldn’t pay? I mean, you were from the same family.

Vladek: Hah! You don’t understand … At that time, it wasn’t anymore families. It was everybody to take care for himself!

Related Characters: Arthur (Artie) Spiegelman (speaker), Vladek Spiegelman (speaker), Jakov Spiegelman, Haskel Spiegelman
Page Number: I.114
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part 1, Chapter 6 Quotes

Mala: Pragmatic? Cheap!! It causes him physical pain to part with even a nickel!

Artie: Uh-huh. I used to think the war made him that way.

Mala: Fah! I went through the camps … All our friends went through the camps. Nobody is like him!

Artie: Mm … It’s something that worries me about the book I’m doing about him … In some ways he’s just like the racist caricature of the miserly old Jew.

Related Characters: Arthur (Artie) Spiegelman (speaker), Mala Spiegelman (speaker), Vladek Spiegelman
Page Number: I.131
Explanation and Analysis:

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Vladek: These notebooks, and other really nice things of mother … one time I had a very bad day … and all of these things I destroyed.

Artie: You what?

Vladek: After Anja died I had to make an order with everything … These papers had too many memories, so I burned them.

Related Characters: Arthur (Artie) Spiegelman (speaker), Vladek Spiegelman (speaker), Anja (Anna) Spiegelman
Page Number: I.158
Explanation and Analysis:

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God damn you! You — you murderer!

Related Characters: Arthur (Artie) Spiegelman (speaker), Vladek Spiegelman, Anja (Anna) Spiegelman
Page Number: I.159
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part 2, Chapter 1 Quotes

I never felt guilty about Richieu. But I did have nightmares about S.S. men coming into my class and dragging all us Jewish kids away. Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t obsessed with this stuff … It’s just that sometimes I’d fantasize Zyklon B coming out of our shower instead of water. I know this is insane, but I somehow wish I had been in Auschwitz with my parents so I could really know what they lived through! … I guess it’s some kind of guilt about having had an easier life than they did.

Related Characters: Arthur (Artie) Spiegelman (speaker), Anja (Anna) Spiegelman, Françoise Mouly, Richieu
Page Number: II.16
Explanation and Analysis:

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Priest [to Vladek]: Your number starts with 17. In Hebrew that’s “k’minyan tov.” A very Seventeen is a very good omen … It ends with 13, the age a Jewish boy becomes a man … And look! Added together it total 18. That’s “chai,” the Hebrew number of life. I can’t know if I’ll survive this hell, but I’m certain you’ll come through all this alive.

Vladek [to Artie]: I started to Believe. I tell you, he put another life in me. And whenever it was very bad I looked and said: “Yes. The priest was right! It totals eighteen.”

Related Characters: Vladek Spiegelman (speaker), The Priest (speaker), Arthur (Artie) Spiegelman
Page Number: II.28
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part 2, Chapter 2 Quotes

Vladek died of congestive heart failure on August 18, 1982 … Françoise and I stayed with him in the Catskills back in August 1979. Vladek started working as a tinman in Auschwitz in the spring of 1944 … I started working on this page at the very end of February 1987. In May 1987 Françoise and I are expecting a baby … Between May 16, 1944 and May 24, 1944, over 100,000 Hungarian Jews were gassed in Auschwitz.

Related Characters: Arthur (Artie) Spiegelman (speaker), Vladek Spiegelman, Françoise Mouly, Nadja Mouly Spiegelman
Page Number: II.41
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part 2, Chapter 5 Quotes

More I don’t need to tell you. We were both very happy, and lived happy, happy ever after.

Related Characters: Vladek Spiegelman (speaker), Arthur (Artie) Spiegelman, Anja (Anna) Spiegelman
Page Number: II.136
Explanation and Analysis:

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So … Let’s stop, please, your tape recorder … I’m tired from talking, Richieu, and it’s enough stories for now.

Related Characters: Vladek Spiegelman (speaker), Arthur (Artie) Spiegelman, Richieu
Page Number: II.136
Explanation and Analysis:

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Arthur (Artie) Spiegelman Character Timeline in Maus

The timeline below shows where the character Arthur (Artie) Spiegelman appears in Maus. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue
Grief, Memory, and Love Theme Icon
...three boys have mouse heads on their human bodies, indicating that they are all Jewish. Artie’s skate comes suddenly loose, and he falls. He shouts to his friends to wait for... (full context)
The Holocaust and the Responsibility of its Survivors Theme Icon
Sniffling, Artie returns home. In the front yard of his family’s house, his father, Vladek Spiegelman, works... (full context)
The Holocaust and the Responsibility of its Survivors Theme Icon
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Death, Chance, and Human Interdependence Theme Icon
When Artie explains that his friends skated on without him after he fell, Vladek stops sawing and... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 1
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Grief, Memory, and Love Theme Icon
Artie, now a grown man, is visiting his father in Rego Park. They greet each other... (full context)
The Holocaust and the Responsibility of its Survivors Theme Icon
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
After dinner, Vladek leads Artie into a bedroom, so he can pedal on a stationary bicycle while they talk –... (full context)
Grief, Memory, and Love Theme Icon
Vladek tells Artie he had no particular interest in Lucia, but that she insisted on their being together.... (full context)
Grief, Memory, and Love Theme Icon
...Vladek make plans to talk on the telephone after he returns to Czestochowa. Vladek tells Artie that they began to talk every day, and that Anja wrote him beautiful letters. When... (full context)
The Holocaust and the Responsibility of its Survivors Theme Icon
Vladek pauses in his cycling. He tells Artie he does not want these stories included in Artie’s book. They have nothing to do... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 2
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
For several months, Artie visits his father regularly to hear more of his stories. He arrives one day to... (full context)
Death, Chance, and Human Interdependence Theme Icon
Artie shifts the conversation to his mother. He wants to know whether Anja had boyfriends before... (full context)
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Guilt, Anger, and Redemption Theme Icon
...months between February, when Anja and Vladek were married, and October, when Richieu was born, Artie asks whether Richieu was premature. Vladek confirms that he was, then launches into a story... (full context)
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Grief, Memory, and Love Theme Icon
Guilt, Anger, and Redemption Theme Icon
...Anja through the hardest days of her recovery – he understands her illness, he tells Artie. One night, he takes her dancing in the cafŽ at the sanitarium. The cafŽ is... (full context)
Death, Chance, and Human Interdependence Theme Icon
...However, they are greeted by the unhappy news that Vladek’s textile factory has been robbed. Artie asks whether this robbery was motivated by anti-Semitism. Vladek does not think it was. With... (full context)
The Holocaust and the Responsibility of its Survivors Theme Icon
Death, Chance, and Human Interdependence Theme Icon
...worried Anja that they can always return to Sosnowiec if Bielsko becomes too violent. When Artie asks why Sosnowiec would be safer than Bielsko, Vladek explains that many people thought Hitler... (full context)
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Grief, Memory, and Love Theme Icon
...to fight against the Germans. Explaining this story, Vladek spills his pills again. He tells Artie that his eyes have been causing him problems; his left eye was replaced with a... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 3
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Guilt, Anger, and Redemption Theme Icon
Artie is still visiting Vladek often, trying to collect as much information as possible about Vladek’s... (full context)
Death, Chance, and Human Interdependence Theme Icon
Artie urges Vladek to focus on 1939. Vladek tells him about fighting in the trenches near... (full context)
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Guilt, Anger, and Redemption Theme Icon
...When they can’t finish the job in time, they are denied food for the day. Artie accidentally spills some ash from a cigarette on the living room floor, and Vladek berates... (full context)
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Artie asks what Parshas Truma is. Vladek explains: each Saturday of the year, Jews read a... (full context)
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Death, Chance, and Human Interdependence Theme Icon
...and many of the other prisoners are released without warning and permitted to return home. Artie is amazed to hear this news, and Vladek reveals to him that Parshas Truma has... (full context)
The Holocaust and the Responsibility of its Survivors Theme Icon
Death, Chance, and Human Interdependence Theme Icon
...man that the Nazis have been herding released prisoners into the forest and shooting them. Artie can’t believe that the Nazis would be permitted to do such a thing to their... (full context)
The Holocaust and the Responsibility of its Survivors Theme Icon
Death, Chance, and Human Interdependence Theme Icon
...asking for help sneaking over the border. Poles felt great animosity toward Germans, Vladek tells Artie, and the conductor was happy to hide him when Nazi soldiers began inspecting passengers’ papers.... (full context)
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Guilt, Anger, and Redemption Theme Icon
...to be together. Wrapping up the interview for the evening and preparing to head home, Artie goes to collect his coat from the closet and finds it isn’t there. Vladek reveals... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 4
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Guilt, Anger, and Redemption Theme Icon
The next time Artie visits Vladek, Vladek berates him for being late. He wanted Artie to climb to the... (full context)
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...says, Vladek should run into the building and pretend to be working. Vladek mentions to Artie that the skills he learned in the tin shop would become useful to him later,... (full context)
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Vladek tells Artie that Mr. Ilzecki had a son about the same age as Richieu. One afternoon, while... (full context)
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...the story – how, in 1943, Tosha took all the children into hiding – but Artie stops him. Vladek needs to tell his story in chronological order, Artie insists, or he’ll... (full context)
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...as a warning against dealing on the black market. As he remembers these men to Artie, Vladek starts to cry. (full context)
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Artie asks what Anja was doing during this time. She spent a lot of time writing... (full context)
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As Artie grudgingly stamps out his cigarette, Vladek resumes his story. After the hanging, he looks for... (full context)
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Vladek sags on his stationary bike. He puts his head in his hands, and tells Artie he is too tired to talk more. He overexerted himself with his pedaling, he says.... (full context)
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Artie listens to Mala’s story, smoking a cigarette. As soon as she finishes speaking –telling him... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 5
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Artie is lying in bed with his wife, Françoise, when the telephone rings. Mala is on... (full context)
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As he makes their coffee, Artie tells Françoise he has always hated helping Vladek around the house – he was overbearing... (full context)
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About a week later, Artie arrives at Vladek’s house to find him sorting nails in the garage. Vladek refuses to... (full context)
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Artie thumbs through “Prisoner on the Hell Planet.” Unlike Maus, the comic depicts human faces rather... (full context)
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Mala tells Artie that the comic shocked her when she read it, but that it seemed “accurate” and... (full context)
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Artie apologizes for upsetting him, but Vladek says it was good for Artie to express his... (full context)
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Vladek and Artie go for a walk. Vladek resumes his story in 1943, when all the Jews who... (full context)
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Artie asks what happened to Richieu after Persis took him to Zawiercie. Vladek explains: a few... (full context)
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...the greatest of all the tragedies they had endured. He mentions staying in “bunkers,” and Artie stops him to ask what he means. Vladek explains that, in the months after the... (full context)
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...to Auschwitz, Vladek spots Jakov and offers to pay him for help escaping the ghetto. Artie asks whether Jakov wouldn’t have helped Vladek without payment, since they were from the same... (full context)
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...a piece of wire from the ground near a trash can. He pockets it, to Artie’s mild disgust, for use in household chores. He goes on with his story: after Haskel... (full context)
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...help regulate his heartbeat. He sits on a stoop to catch his breath, and tells Artie that Miloch survived the war and moved to Australia with his wife. He reveals that... (full context)
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Vladek and Artie resume walking. Vladek describes the last months of 1943: the Germans are clearing out Srodula,... (full context)
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Vladek and Artie have walked to the local bank. Vladek asks the teller – an American woman, with... (full context)
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Mala would be furious if Artie inherited the diamond ring, Vladek says – she is constantly badgering him to change his... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 6
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When Artie arrives at the house for his next visit with Vladek, he finds Mala crying at... (full context)
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Vladek comes in from watering the garden. Artie, changing the subject quickly, tells Vladek that he has begun sketching pages for his book,... (full context)
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Artie asks Vladek to resume his story in 1944, when he and Anja left Srodula. Vladek... (full context)
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Artie stops Vladek, and asks whether Hungary wasn’t just as dangerous as Poland. For a long... (full context)
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Artie asks Vladek to come inside with him and search for Anja’s diaries. Vladek hesitates, then... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 1
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It is summer. Artie and Françoise are vacationing with friends in Vermont. Artie is doodling outside, trying to decide... (full context)
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Artie and Françoise’s friends run out of the house in a panic. Vladek just called, one... (full context)
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Reluctantly, Artie and Françoise get into their car and head for the Catskills. As they drive, Artie... (full context)
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Artie wonders aloud whether he and Richieu would get along, if Richieu had survived the war.... (full context)
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Artie remembers a few more details of his childhood obsession with the Holocaust: his nightmares about... (full context)
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It is late when Artie and Françoise arrive at Vladek’s bungalow in the Catskills. Vladek has been waiting up for... (full context)
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...next morning, a little before 8 a.m., Vladek bursts into the bedroom where Françoise and Artie are sleeping. He opens the curtains and rouses Artie, who fumbles to get dressed as... (full context)
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Françoise appears in the kitchen, yawning. Artie lights a cigarette, and Vladek berates him for using a wood match. He gets free... (full context)
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Artie hears Françoise calling his name, and leaves Mr. and Mrs. Karp’s house as quickly as... (full context)
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Vladek appears in the yard outside the bungalow, and asks Artie to come inside and help him organize his bank papers. A few hours later (they... (full context)
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As they walk, Artie asks Vladek what he plans to do now that Mala is gone. Vladek says he... (full context)
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Artie has brought his tape recorder on the walk, and asks Vladek whether they can talk... (full context)
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Vladek and Artie come to a hotel called The Pines. There is a “No Trespassing” sign, but Vladek... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 2
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The first panel of the chapter shows Artie bent over a drawing table. The panel shows him in profile, and only his head... (full context)
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As Artie recites his list of dates, the panels zoom out to capture more of his body... (full context)
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...all wearing animal masks over human faces, climb the pile of dead bodies and surround Artie at his drawing table. As they bombard him with questions, Artie begins to shrink in... (full context)
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The reporters vanish, and Artie – still as small as a toddler – sits alone in his chair. He tells... (full context)
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Pavel opens the door in a mouse mask – as with Artie and the reporters, his human head is visible in profile. Artie, still tiny, sits in... (full context)
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Pavel asks whether Artie admires Vladek for surviving. Artie admits that he does – though Vladek was luckier than... (full context)
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Artie tells Pavel he has been struggling to imagine Auschwitz. He does not know what it... (full context)
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Back at his drawing table, Artie turns on the tape of his interview with Vladek. The tape begins with the two... (full context)
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...then a cat. Nobody could say whether this man was really a German, Vladek tells Artie – regardless of his nationality, though, the Germans considered him a Jew and treated him... (full context)
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Artie asks about Anja. Vladek explains that Anja was sent to Birkenau, a much bigger camp... (full context)
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...the shops – “If you want to live, it’s good to be friendly,” he tells Artie. (full context)
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As Artie and Vladek return home, Artie tries to sketch a timeline of Vladek’s imprisonment. Vladek says... (full context)
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That night, after Vladek is asleep, Artie and Françoise sit on the porch and talk. Staying with Vladek has left them exhausted,... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 3
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...the supermarket, to return foods Mala left behind and buy groceries for the week. When Artie reminds Vladek that he and Françoise are only planning to stay for another day or... (full context)
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Driving to the supermarket later, Artie tells Vladek he has been reading about a group of prisoners in Auschwitz who revolted... (full context)
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Vladek, Artie, and Françoise arrive at the supermarket. Vladek intends to return the half-empty boxes of cereal... (full context)
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As they drive back to the bungalow, Vladek tells Artie and Françoise about Dachau – a place he describes as being much more miserable and... (full context)
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Artie asks what happened to the French man after Vladek left Dachau. Vladek says the French... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 4
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...the house in Rego Park, Vladek is despondent. He cannot live by himself, he tells Artie – he is too sick, with diabetes and a weak heart – but does not... (full context)
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Vladek wants Artie’s help installing storm windows. Artie promises to help, but asks Vladek to tell him about... (full context)
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Vladek insists it is time to install the storm windows, but tells Artie he wants to give him something before he forgets about it. From a shelf in... (full context)
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Artie asks Vladek about the Spiegelman side of the family – his own parents and siblings.... (full context)
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...pain him. He takes a nitroglycerin pill and lies down on the couch. He tells Artie that he is too tired to install the storm windows, and asks whether Artie can... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 5
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It is winter. Artie is listening to the recordings of his interviews with Vladek – to the part of... (full context)
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Artie goes back to his recordings, but the phone rings as soon as he turns on... (full context)
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Artie arrives in Florida to find Vladek has exhausted himself with packing. While Vladek rests in... (full context)
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The next morning, before catching their flight back to New York, Vladek and Artie sit outside Vladek’s Florida condo and watch planes leaving the nearby airport. Spotting a tiny... (full context)
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After a long, problem-plagued flight from Florida, Vladek, Artie, and Mala arrive at the airport in New York. Françoise takes Mala home, while Artie... (full context)
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About a month after returning from Florida, Artie goes to Queens to visit Vladek. Upon arriving, he learns from Mala that they are... (full context)
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...is resting in bed. The photograph of Richieu hangs on the wall above the dresser. Artie comes into the room and sits beside his father. Vladek is pleased to see Artie,... (full context)
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...photograph of himself wearing a concentration camp uniform. In his travels through Germany, he tells Artie, he once came across a place that had a clean camp uniform, which people could... (full context)
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Vladek is reclining in bed. He asks Artie to stop the tape recorder, and rolls over onto his side as though preparing to... (full context)
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...without going out –sits at the base of the headstone. Just beneath the image is Artie’s signature and the dates on which he began and completed Maus: 1978-1991. (full context)