The Shadows of a Past Time

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"it depicts what was all too real, however unbelievable, in a tighlty controlled and brutally stark manner" pg. 201

Chute, Hilary. "The Shadow of a Past Time: History and Graphic Representation in Maus." Twentieth-Century Literature 52.2 (2006): 199-230.

The Holocaust was something no one (well, maybe one evil, black mustached little man) could have imagined, but yet, it happened. Yet, we who did not witness it can often not fathom that something this horrible was allowed to happen, especially within the last 100 years. While comparing Spiegelman's latest venture, a 9-11/Holocaust comparison comic entitled In the Shadow of No Towers, with Maus, chute manages to illustrate, through quotes from Spiegelman and others, the advantages of having such attrocites as 9-11 and the Holocaust represented in the comic medium. Spiegelman is quoted saying that each box is " a different moment of time-and you see then all at once. As a result you're always, in comics, being made aware of different times inhabiting the same space." (202). Art speaks of his father, a packrat, who taught him how to pack a suitcase, to fit many things in a tight space. Through this metaphor, Spiegelman has acquired a talent for packing a lot into a small space. All at once, there are many things happening on a page in Maus. But, just as Art needed everything that was tightly packed into the suitcase, so did he need every little detail, even the conversations with his father in between the bits of story. Further on in And Here My Troubles Began, Vladek tells Art that " all such things of the war, I tried to put out of my mind once and for all...Until you rebuild me all this from your questions" (98). Rebuilding is exactly what Maus does. Maybe we push the subject out of our minds because of the horrifying subject matter: we push it out because, as I stated before, we cannot even begin to imagine such an attrocity. But Maus, with its interweaving of the past and present, rebuilds the Holocaust in a way in which we can grasp what happened. Maybe then we can prevent, as Spiegelman said of 9-11, "the same old deadly buisness as usual" (199).

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I think that's why it's so important to remember the past, even though there are some who believe we should just leave it in the past and forget about it. They have a point that it's not good to dwell on the past, but we should remember it. If we just forget about it, then history will have a tendency of repeating itself.

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