Study Guide

Maus: A Survivor's Tale Book I, Chapter 6

By Art Spiegelman

Book I, Chapter 6

Mouse Trap

  • Art comes over for another session with his father. He finds Mala crying on the kitchen counter, miserable about his father. She complains that Vladek gives her an allowance of only $50.00 a month, and Art tells her about how stingy his father was in his own childhood.
  • Vladek comes in, and Art shows them some sketches of the book he’s writing. Both Vladek and Mala are pleased with the way the comic is looking.
  • Vladek and Art go out into the backyard, where Vladek takes up the story again in 1944. They go back to Sosnowiec to Richieu’s governess, who had always offered to help them. But when the governess sees them, she shoos them away.
  • They then go to Anja’s old home, where the janitor agrees to hide them. Vladek goes out to look for some food, where another Jew tips him off to the black market, where he can get some food for himself and Anja. On the advice of other Jews, Vladek and Anja goes to hide on a farm belonging to a Polish woman, Mrs. Kawka.
  • Vladek goes into town on the train, and in order to blend in, he always sits in the German car, figuring that no one would suspect a Jew would sit in a German car. He meets another Polish woman, Mrs. Motonowa, who often sells him goods on the black market, and she agrees to take him and Anja into her home.
  • Things are going well with Mrs. Motonowa, but then Mrs. Motonowa is in town and gets searched by the Gestapo. In a panic, she throws out Vladek and Anja.
  • They go back into town, and spend the night hiding in a pit at a construction site. They then go back to Mrs. Kawka’s barn. Mrs. Kawka tells them that she knows of some smugglers who take Jews to Hungary, where the situation is much better.
  • Later, Vladek sees Mrs. Motonowa again on the street, and she welcomes him and Anja back into their home. But her husband, who doesn’t know she’s hiding them, returns home on a vacation from his work, and Vladek and Anja have to hide in the cellar. When the husband leaves, Vladek and Anja are able to emerge.
  • Vladek has another scare in town when a bunch of boys taunt him for being a Jew. But he gets out of the situation by saying “Heil Hitler” and speaking German.
  • Vladek goes to Mrs. Kawka to meet the smugglers, and there he sees Abraham and his family, who are also interested in getting to Hungary. They finally agree that if Abraham sends them a note from the border, they’ll know that it’s okay to trust the smugglers.
  • Anja and Mrs. Motonowa are deeply suspicious, but Vladek is hopeful. He even visits his cousin Miloch, who is hiding in his former janitor’s rubbish pit, and invites him to be smuggled out as well. Miloch is suspicious, and decides to stay at the rubbish pit. Vladek directs Miloch to stay with Mrs. Motonowa once he and Anja leave with the smugglers.
  • Vladek and Anja meet up with the smugglers at a train station in Katowice. They grow suspicious when one of the smugglers disappears to make a phone call, but get on the train anyway.
  • Just an hour later, in Bielsko-Biala, where Vladek had his former factory, they are caught by the Germans, who have been tipped off by the smugglers. They are taken to prison, and then to Auschwitz.
  • At the camp, Vladek and Anja were separated, as the men and women were separated into different sections.
  • Back to present day, Art asks Vladek about searching for Anja’s notebooks. Vladek finally confesses that he has destroyed Anja’s notebooks. Art is furious.