From Shared Experiences to Lived Experiences: An Analysis of Intergenerational Trauma through Art and Vladek Spiegelman’s Father-Son Relationship in Maus

By Espino, Samantha Sabrina B.

Adviser: Dr. Leodivico Lacsamana

Art Spiegelman’s two-volume graphic novel Maus had been explored through multilateral perspectives, most especially its connection to the transmission of trauma. This study explored this association by putting on focus the relationship of the second generation to the Holocaust.Hence, this study addressed the question: “How did the language of family, brought about by intergenerational trauma, affect the way Art views and treats his traumatized father?” This was achieved by first employing four selected elements, established by Will Eisner and Scott McCloud in their study on Sequential Art Theory, specifically “expressive anatomy’, ‘icons’,”lines’, and ‘words and pictures’, to determine what is being communicated, by the graphic novel, in terms of its non-verbal and verbal aspects. The information and analysis from Eisner and McCloud’s elements were streamlined into Marianne Hirsch’s theory of Postmemory, viewed through her framework of the “language of family’, to investigate Art and Vladek Spiegelman’s father-and-son relationship.

This study’s discovery is that Art and Vladek’s father-son relationship is strained and distant because it is embraced by the past traumatic event of the Holocaust, where Vladek’s imprisonment to his trauma affected his parenting style towards Art. What permits Art and Vladek’s association to continue is their transactional relationship. This involves Art’s desire to understand his relationship with Vladek and his past, which led him to desire to be understood for all he had suffered. Art’s desire to understand and be understood requires Vladek’s story and participation, as the key to fulfilling it. Furthermore, their transactional relationship amounted to Art developing a relationship with a past he was absent from. Art and Vladek’s strained, distant, and transactional relationship is manifested through the kind of language used in their familial setting, i.e., the language of family. Their language of family bridged Art’s postmemory, his relationship to the Holocaust, coupled with his imaginative investment, projection, and creation; to develop into intergenerational trauma. Art’s own traumatic experience, and its eventual resolution, influenced the development of how he views and treats Vladek; from previously viewing and treating him with resentment to viewing and treating him with forgiveness and understanding.

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Dr. Laya Boquiren-Gonzales & Mrs. Meryl Kei Cariaga-Hernandez

Thesis Professors:

Dr. Joachim Emilio Antonio & Dr. Arnel E. Joven

Program Director:

Dr. Sophia Martha B. Marco

S.Y. 2022-2023 | Espino, Samantha B.