Close Reading 1: Maus I
Disagreeing and arguing constantly, Vladek and Mala have an unhealthy, impersonal relationship, causing the reader question how their marriage came about.
During the war, few survived the concentration camps, however, both Valdek and Mala pulled through it (p. 11). Initially this may have drawn them close because the similar hardships they endured and the fact that coming out of such traumatic settings makes it hard to relate with non-Holocaust victims. Also drawing them together was the fact that they knew each other before the war. Mala was a friend of Vladek and Anja before the war when they lived in Poland (p. 11). This brings in the underling problem for Vladek and Mala’s constant arguments.
Mala has put the past behind her yet Vladek still has open wounds that he won’t let go of. Vladek is not over Anja. He even has pictures of her on his desk still (p. 104). When Vladek compares Mala to Anja he seems to have a hard time finding Mala’s good aspects. Throughout the book he complains about Mala wanting money and wanting to change the will (p. 135). Like Art says, “In some ways he’s just like the racist caricature of the miserly old Jew.” (p 131). Complaining could be his way of coping with the loss of Anja and his feeling of guilt for remarrying because he still loves Anja. Also, since Mala knew Anja (p. 11), it makes it easier for her to see that Vladek compares them, making Mala jealous. “I swear, sometimes I think he married me because I am the same size as Anja!”, says Mala (p. 131). Various scenes in Maus I things don’t seem to be good enough for Vladek. For example, Artie’s coat (p. 69), things aren’t clean enough (p.93), or the suggestion to call a handyman and fix the roof later (p. 73), Vladek wants it to be done right away. In many ways Vladek’s attitude causes relationship problems between Mala and himself because to him, Mala is not good enough, he wants Anja.