Maus

Mala Spiegelman Character Analysis

Vladek’s second wife, whom he marries shortly after Anja dies. Mala feels stifled by Vladek, and resents him for his stinginess and his expectation that she will cater to all his neuroses. Her frustration and resentment tends to manifest as an obsession with Vladek’s estate. After years of caring for Vladek, she believes she is owed the bulk of his money and assets, and often badgers him about revising his will to increase her inheritance. Mala is a Holocaust survivor, who knew Vladek in Sosnowiec before the war. Though she makes occasional reference to her experiences, Artie never makes an effort to collect her memories. She is warm and respectful toward Artie, and gets along well with him even while fighting with Vladek.

Mala Spiegelman Quotes in Maus

The Maus quotes below are all either spoken by Mala Spiegelman or refer to Mala 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 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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Mala Spiegelman Character Timeline in Maus

The timeline below shows where the character Mala Spiegelman appears in Maus. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 1
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Grief, Memory, and Love Theme Icon
...his two heart attacks had taken their toll,” Artie observes. Inside the house, Artie greets Mala, his father’s second wife. Like Artie’s parents and most of their friends, Mala is a... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 3
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Guilt, Anger, and Redemption Theme Icon
...as possible about Vladek’s past. Eating dinner at his father’s house one evening, Artie tells Mala about the extreme lengths to which Vladek went, during Artie’s childhood, to guarantee that Artie... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 4
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Guilt, Anger, and Redemption Theme Icon
...he should hire someone to fix the drainpipe. Vladek, annoyed, says Artie is just like Mala – a spendthrift – and that he will fix the drainpipe himself if Artie won’t... (full context)
Grief, Memory, and Love Theme Icon
...says. Artie suggests that Vladek take a nap, then goes out into the kitchen where Mala is drinking coffee and playing Solitaire. He tells Mala that he has just been talking... (full context)
The Holocaust and the Responsibility of its Survivors Theme Icon
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Grief, Memory, and Love Theme Icon
Mala, who knew Vladek and Anja before the war and lived in Sosnowiec herself, says the... (full context)
Grief, Memory, and Love Theme Icon
Guilt, Anger, and Redemption Theme Icon
Artie listens to Mala’s story, smoking a cigarette. As soon as she finishes speaking –telling him that her parents... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 5
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Artie is lying in bed with his wife, Françoise, when the telephone rings. Mala is on the other line, yelling in frustration. Vladek climbed onto the roof to fix... (full context)
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Grief, Memory, and Love Theme Icon
Guilt, Anger, and Redemption Theme Icon
Death, Chance, and Human Interdependence Theme Icon
...Artie to wait for him inside while he finishes sorting. In the house, Artie asks Mala the reason for Vladek’s mood –he describes Vladek as seeming “upset” and “depressed.” Mala reveals... (full context)
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Grief, Memory, and Love Theme Icon
Guilt, Anger, and Redemption Theme Icon
Mala tells Artie that the comic shocked her when she read it, but that it seemed... (full context)
Grief, Memory, and Love Theme Icon
Guilt, Anger, and Redemption Theme Icon
...of Anja, he says – but, of course, he is always thinking of Anja anyway. Mala points out that Vladek’s desk is covered with photographs of Anja; she compares these, bitterly,... (full context)
The Holocaust and the Responsibility of its Survivors Theme Icon
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Grief, Memory, and Love Theme Icon
...Vladek’s things. He wants Artie to have access to his valuables, Vladek says, because otherwise Mala will snatch them as soon as Vladek dies. Artie is uncomfortable talking about the prospect... (full context)
Guilt, Anger, and Redemption Theme Icon
Mala would be furious if Artie inherited the diamond ring, Vladek says – she is constantly... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 6
The Holocaust and the Responsibility of its Survivors Theme Icon
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Grief, Memory, and Love Theme Icon
Guilt, Anger, and Redemption Theme Icon
When Artie arrives at the house for his next visit with Vladek, he finds Mala crying at the kitchen table. Vladek has been making her miserable again; she complains about... (full context)
Grief, Memory, and Love Theme Icon
Guilt, Anger, and Redemption Theme Icon
...the hanging of the four Jews in Sosnowiec. The scene makes Vladek tearful. He and Mala both praise the work. Vladek tells Artie he will be as famous as “the big-shot... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 1
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Guilt, Anger, and Redemption Theme Icon
...to ensure Artie would call him back. The real crisis, Artie tells them, is that Mala has left Vladek – taken money from their bank account and disappeared with their car.... (full context)
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Guilt, Anger, and Redemption Theme Icon
...and pot in her bag) while Vladek tells him about the drama that led to Mala leaving. Back in Rego Park, they went to the bank together to renew some bonds... (full context)
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Guilt, Anger, and Redemption Theme Icon
Death, Chance, and Human Interdependence Theme Icon
...can be expected to manage on his own. They have been looking after Vladek since Mala disappeared (a decision for which Mrs. Karp expresses sympathy) but insist that Vladek needs full-time... (full context)
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Guilt, Anger, and Redemption Theme Icon
As they walk, Artie asks Vladek what he plans to do now that Mala is gone. Vladek says he will go home when Artie and Françoise do – he... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 2
The Holocaust and the Responsibility of its Survivors Theme Icon
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
...has finished with the bank papers and made lunch. Vladek praises Françoise and complains about Mala as they all sit down to eat, but Artie doesn’t pause in their interview –... (full context)
The Holocaust and the Responsibility of its Survivors Theme Icon
...the porch and talk. Staying with Vladek has left them exhausted, and Artie hopes that Mala will come back soon, to relieve them of the burden of caring for him. Inside... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 3
The Holocaust and the Responsibility of its Survivors Theme Icon
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Guilt, Anger, and Redemption Theme Icon
The next morning, Vladek announces plans for a trip to the supermarket, to return foods Mala left behind and buy groceries for the week. When Artie reminds Vladek that he and... (full context)
The Holocaust and the Responsibility of its Survivors Theme Icon
...Vladek intends to return the half-empty boxes of cereal and other partially used groceries that Mala left when she ran off. Artie and Françoise refuse to go with him into the... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 5
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
...but the phone rings as soon as he turns on the tape player. It is Mala. She and Vladek have been living together in Florida, she tells him, and Vladek has... (full context)
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Guilt, Anger, and Redemption Theme Icon
Death, Chance, and Human Interdependence Theme Icon
...to find Vladek has exhausted himself with packing. While Vladek rests in bed, Artie asks Mala about their apparent reconciliation. She got a call from the hospital and went to visit... (full context)
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Death, Chance, and Human Interdependence Theme Icon
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 takes Vladek... (full context)
Guilt, Anger, and Redemption Theme Icon
Death, Chance, and Human Interdependence Theme Icon
...returning from Florida, Artie goes to Queens to visit Vladek. Upon arriving, he learns from Mala that they are planning to sell the house and move full-time to Florida. Artie is... (full context)