Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Tragedy through Image?

I would absolutely agree with Ryan about how Spiegelman’s drawings give way to a sense of anxiousness, unease, as moving through the Maus. There were times when I had to turn away from the images on the page, not only because of how graphic an image’s context may have been, but also because the way it was formatted or drawn just struck me as being too real. Spiegelman’s greatness is his ability to capture that kind of tragic sadness in any given image. Take for example the photos that Vladek gives to Art. Spiegelman could have easily drawn each of the pictures in their own respective boxes but, instead, we see them sprawled about the pages as if Vladek is showing the photos to us (we become Art’s eyes looking through the photos strewn about the page). Then, on page 115, the pictures overflow, they begin to crowd around the captions of Vladek and Art sitting, and seem to pile on the ground. In this, I saw how the photos, Vladek’s memories begin to overwhelm him (and the reader as well), piling up and forcing the caption of Art and his father into the background. That is until the next page, when we see the effect these photos have upon Vladek. His face turned toward the ground, on the scattered pictures and guilt filled memories, the image captions break Vladek apart. They begin separating his body, showing the inner turmoil within Vladek. It is here that I felt that Vladek was the most vulnerable. He is, literally, broken.

I think the final image of the grave works in a similar way. It’s funny I had never really thought about what the image of the grave evoked within me, with Halloween being just last week I kind of felt desensitized to it, but after weeding through stupid mental images of zombies raising from the ground, I realized the image of the grave, without a doubt, just symbolized death to me. Which is weird because, in a way, I think graves are supposed to be a kind of physical stamp of one’s life on earth. It’s like a tattoo of a person’s existence upon the world. So, Spiegelman’s use of the grave to end the book seems fitting in that it ends the book, ends the his father’s story (and maybe some of Art’s obsession with the Holocaust) but, more importantly, it respects and commemorates the lives that made the story. It’s as if the story (both Vladek’s and Art’s) lives on through the gravestone.

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