I chose this quote because of how I see a memoir. When reading the story of Art Speiglman and Elie Wiesel, firstly I saw it as a story with a lot of flashbacks to it, and a lot of memories being brought up. But reading further into the book, I realised that the two represent a memoir from World War II. I believe that once a memoir is written, it includes a message that is presented in a way for us to learn/reflect from. By that I mean that every memoir has an inner, deeper purpose for the reader to find out about. It does not have to be mysterious and hidden inside the book, but it is also not told directly in the text. I believe that the perceptions of others to a memoir can be ok sometimes, but in most times, there is a premeditated message that should be taken to everyone’s consideration. In this case, the author wants to bring out the father-son relationship development throughout the book.
Choosing one of the books to connect to my claim and to the quote, I thought Maus is doing a better job of showing a more specific intention by the author. The whole book refers back to Vladek (Art’s father) telling his story of a jew in the holocaust, to his son, Art Speigelman. Of course, the holocaust and setting of the memoir is dominant and influencing the story a lot because of the harsh conditions and awful treatment the jews got back then, but there is a deeper meaning for why this stroy is written the way it is. In Maus, Art could have just presented the story of his father without showing us the ‘present day’ life and how he collected the information. He chooses to show Vladek’s story, and at the same time show their ‘present’ life story. Telling the story of the holocaust affected the relationship between the father and son. You can see the growth and change throughout the book, and identify the fallout of sharing this story has made, and that is the deeper meaning of the memoir.
Starting to read the book, you can see how the relationship between the father and son is not strong at all. The book starts off with Art stating: “I went out to see my father in Rego Park. I hadn’t seen him in a long time- we weren’t that close” (p. 11). This starting quote generally tells you that the father and son don’t have a strong bond when they don’t even see each other that often. The book continues quite fast into Art going into his father’s house and straight up asking him to tell his story of the war and how he lived in Poland for the book that he’s going to write. Art says: “ I still want to draw that book about you.. About your life in Poland and the war… I still want to hear it. Start with mom… Tell me how you met” (p. 12). If you think about the beginning of the book and the relationship between the father and the son, you can identify the fact that Art came over mainly for his own purpose to publish a book, and not to see his father. Them both showing no deep interest in one another when seeing each other after a long period of time tells us how they are not close at all.
Reading further into the book with the father continued to tell his story to Art, you can see how the relationship between the two changes. Vladek is very much shaped by his experience in World War II. The traumatic events of the past are affecting his behaviour today when being a cold and judgmental person. Art grew up to know his father the way that he is in the present, but when Vladek shares the story with his son, Art starts to understand and accept is behaviour more. An example from the text would be in page 98 when Art and Vladek have a simple conversation: “Hiya, pop. Whatcha doing out here in the garage? It’s always something here I must do… Um.. Do you need any help with those nails or anything? Such jobs I can do easily by myself. ‘Um… is everything ok?’ “ (p. 98). This quote is taken from further into the book, and you can see a ‘present’ scene from the book that is showing a simple conversation between the two. Although this might seem like just any normal conversation between a father and a son, this is actually showing a growth in their relationship. The interest that Art is taking in his father (although it is minor), is something that we did not see before. This shows how when the father gets into his story and Art hears more about his past, he starts to understand where his dad’s antagonistic and bitter behaviour comes from.
To summarize, I can say that the memoir: Maus, has shown to me not only a strong and forceful story about a holocaust survivor’s past, but also showed me how it affected present times for those who are surrounded by him (Vladek). Mainly, the relationship with his son (Art Spiegleman) being affected throughout the book with getting to know the father better through his story, and as a result, warm up to him a little. I think this memoir was written this way to convey a specific message to the readers about the father-son relationship.