Without question, Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began serves as the darkest installment of our semester’s readings. Spiegelman provides the perfect conclusion to our lessons on travel by stripping away its leisurely attributes and exposing us to a form of travel done so out of absolute necessity. Art inquires into the atrocities faced by his father, Vladek, in the concentration camps; a place where travel was the only way to ensure survival along the unpredictable journey towards death. Spiegelman is so successful in his recounts of family history through his inclusion of jarring images alongside words of sheer terror, allowing absolutely no escape from the work’s full effect. In the course of his lifetime Vladek Spiegelman was forced to relocate from his home in Poland into the ghettos, into Auschwitz, bounced from camp to camp, tugged all across Western Europe and eventually lands on America’s east coast rotating between New York and Florida. Although we are absolutely incapable of comprehending the course of internal travel during his time in Auschwitz, the words and illustrations of his son present us with a rude awakening. Sometimes the only way to continue on in the journey of life is to have the internal strength to cheat its conclusion in death.
As our time together as a class comes to an end, I would have to say that the most interesting thing I’ve fully come to understand is that everyone travels along a separate path in life. We all come from different places and we are all continuously sprinting in separate directions, yet we meet the people we meet and experience everything we experience for a reason. It all allows us to travel from fetus to fertilizer, testing our inner beings to flourish in their own individual way. The only way to grasp the complexity of life is to hear as many separate accounts as possible, and this class taught me to share my story with as many other people in anyway possible, whether it be through poetry, songs, or simply chatting with a group of new friends.