Study Guide

Maus: A Survivor's Tale Book I, Chapter 2

By Art Spiegelman

Book I, Chapter 2

The Honeymoon

  • Art visits Vladek regularly over the next few months to record Vladek’s story.
  • On one particular visit, Art interrupts Vladek as he counts out his medication.
  • Art asks Vladek if Anja had any old boyfriends before she met Vladek. Vladek mentions that she had one – a boy from Warsaw who was involved in Communist activities.
  • The story shifts to Vladek’s memories.
  • Shortly after they married, Vladek learns on the way home that a local seamstress has been arrested for storing Communist documents.
  • When he arrives at his apartment, Anja’s parents inform him that Anja had been translating Communist documents into German for the boy from Warsaw.
  • When Anja heard the police were on their way, she went to the seamstress and asked her to hide the documents for her. The police discovered the documents and arrested the seamstress.
  • Anja’s father paid the seamstress to keep her mouth shut about Anja, and in three months the seamstress was freed.
  • At around the same time, Anja’s father helps finance a new textile factory for Vladek to own and manage.
  • By October, 1937, the factory is up and running, and Anja and Vladek welcome their first son, Richieu, into the world.
  • Art wonders whether Richieu was premature (October birth – February marriage = well, you do the math), but Vladek quickly changes the subject to Art, who was born after the war. Art was premature, and the doctor had to break his arm in order to deliver him. As a baby, Art’s arm kept popping up, and his parents jokingly called him “Heil, Hitler.”
  • As Vladek imitates Art’s “Heil,” he accidentally spills the pills and blames Art for “making” him spill his pills.
  • After this little interruption, Vladek goes back to telling his story.
  • So...October, 1937. New factory. New baby. No more communist ex-boyfriends.
  • Life should be good, right?
  • Well, a few months later, Anja gets a serious case of postpartum depression, and Vladek accompanies her to a sanitarium in Czechoslovakia to recover.
  • It is now early 1938. As they take the train across the border into Czechoslovakia, Vladek sees the Nazi swastika for the first time, flying high in the center of a small town. The passengers tell each other horror stories about what’s happening to Jews in Germany.
  • But these horrors seem distant. Vladek and Anja enjoy their isolated retreat in their upscale Czech sanitarium, which seems more like a hotel than an asylum.
  • After about three months, they return home, only to find that Vladek’s factory has been robbed. The robbery may or may not have been motivated by anti-Semitism. Anja’s dad helps Vladek rebuild the factory, and it’s turning a profit again in no time.
  • Yet conditions worsen for Jews in their town. Anti-Semitic riots take place downtown, and the police do little to help.
  • Flash forward to August 24, 1939. Vladek receives a letter from the government: he’s been called into active duty from the reserves. Now that they know war is imminent, Anja goes with Richieu back to her family in Sosnowiec, while Vladek leaves for the army.
  • Flash forward to present day, where Vladek spills his pills yet again. Vladek explains that he has trouble seeing due to his left eye, which hemorrhaged and had to be replaced by a glass eye. His right eye isn’t helping: it’s got a cataract. They decide to call it a wrap.