Study Guide

Maus: A Survivor's Tale Family

By Art Spiegelman


Maus offers up a family portrait complicated by the legacy of the Holocaust, where family bonds were tested and whole families wiped out. The novel delves into the culture clash between the Holocaust survivors and their children, who may have little connection to the culture or the religion of their parents. The family relation is also strained by the physical, emotional, and psychological traumas suffered by the survivors, whose unresolved feelings about the Holocaust cause conflicts with their children.

Questions About Family

  1. Take a look at the numerous interactions between Art and his father. How would you describe Art’s relationship with his father?
  2. Art tells us that he became an artist partly so that he wouldn’t have to compete with his father. How is Art different from his father? In what ways are they similar?
  3. Consider the scenes where Richieu makes an appearance. How does Vladek talk about Richieu? Anja? Art? How does Richieu’s death affect Art’s relationship with his parents?
  4. Both Vladek and Anja lost most of their family members in the Holocaust. How does this loss affect their relationship with Art? How does this loss affect Art’s feelings about creating a family of his own?
  5. Take a second look at “Prisoner on Hell Planet.” How do you think Art feels about his mother’s suicide? Why do you think he needs to see her diaries so badly?

Chew on This

Despite their differences, Art’s artistry has important similarities to his father’s technical skill and resourcefulness.

Art’s relationship with his parents is haunted by the memory of those lost in the Holocaust.