Maus: A Survivor's Tale
by Art Spiegelman
Pavel, also a Holocaust survivor, is Art’s therapist. Like Mala and other Holocaust survivors in the novel, Pavel provides an important counterweight to Vladek by showing how diverse the survival experience was. In fact, he is an idealized father figure for Art, giving Art the wise, sympathetic, and accepting ear that Vladek does not. He is also able to help Art understand Vladek’s behavior.
In a nice ironic twist given the animal metaphors in Maus¸ Pavel collects stray animals as pets, and even displays a photograph of his cat in his office. His kindness toward stray animals, and even to cats, is in some way another manifestation of the same neurosis that drives Vladek to collect trash on the streets. Pavel, like Vladek, finds it difficult to discard anything “after Hitler.”