Vladek’s particular telling of his Holocaust experience takes a basic quest form, where he is the hero and the object of the quest is survival. Vladek must draw on his resourcefulness and cunning to succeed.
In a typical quest, the hero voluntarily embarks on a journey. For Vladek, the journey is involuntary: the Nazis deport himself and his family to the concentration camps.
At Auschwitz, Vladek tries to make the most of the situation. His skills as a tinsmith and a shoemaker earn him a few privileges, and even help to bring Anja over to Auschwitz from Birkenau.
If you thought Auschwitz was bad, welcome to Dachau. Here, Vladek experiences the most brutal and inhumane conditions. His skills are useless, and he falls gravely ill.
After they are freed by American troops, Vladek and Anja reunite in Sosnowiec. They immigrate to Sweden, and then to the United States, where they begin a new life.