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Art Spiegelman

The author of the story, he visited his father in hopes of recording his experience of The Holocaust.

Vladek Spiegelman

Art's father, a diabetic and a Holocaust survivor. He told Art about his experience during the Holocaust.
  • All Jews Are Cheapskates: Zigzagged. His son and daughter-in-law try to convince him to Stop Being Stereotypical. He claims that the Holocaust, when hoarding food and supplies was a matter of life and death, made him that way. Mala comments that she and most of the family's friends are Holocaust survivors, and none of them are anywhere near as stingy as Vladek.
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  • Cunning Linguist: Downplayed. While he may have issues with grammar in the English language, his linguistic ability includes English, Polish, and German; the last one allowed him to survive as he managed to persuade suspecting Germans. In the case of English, his relatively comprehensive English skills win him the favor of a Polish supervisor that provided him with food and luxuries not available to other prisoners.
  • Bad Dreams: He apparently has them every night, as he's always moaning in his sleep. Art says to Francoise: "When I was a kid I thought that was the sound that all grown-ups made while they sleep."
  • Determinator: Though luck comes to play frequently in his survival of the Holocaust, Art admits that he admires Vladek's resourcefulness and determination to survive. Even when he gets older, he refuses to let heart attacks get in the way of his life; in Volume One, he nearly falls off the roof of his house and then throws his wife into hysterics when he says he wants to go back up there and finish his work!
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  • Deus ex Machina: Arguably, one of the more disturbing elements of the Holocaust that the book depicts is how often Vladek managed to survive by sheer luck.
  • Eloquent in My Native Tongue: Vladek still shows some trouble with speaking English, notably in sentence construction (understandable since he grew up speaking Polish and German). As the book so very clearly shows, he is far from stupid and also speaks the language much better than most Polish Jews, which ends up saving his life at least once.
  • Freudian Excuse: Played with. At different points, he whined some variant of this, saying his experiences in Holocaust is why he acts the way he does. The thing is that he was already like that.
  • Hypocrite: He is occasionally shown to be this way. He accuses Mala of being a Gold Digger, but it's implied that he originally pursued Anja because she was from a wealthy family. Art also points out that Vladek's racism toward black people is not so different from how anti-semites regard Jews.
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  • Guile Hero: His methods of surviving through the Holocaust can be downright Magnificent Bastard.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: The one picture seen of Vladek, taken some time after he left Auschwitz, shows a quite handsome young fellow who bears some resemblance to Rudolph Valentino.
  • Jewish Mother: Writ large, in spite of his being a man. It is never played for laughs and stops just short of outright emotional abuse, subverting or deconstructing this trope.
  • No Accounting for Taste: His marriage to Mala. They're constantly fighting; Mala complains about Vladek's cheapness, while he says that she's greedy and only married him to get his money.
  • Racist Grandpa: He's very racist towards black people; he's utterly horrified when Françoise picks up a black hitch-hiker.
  • Unreliable Narrator: In some aspects, as we (and Art) don't really know to what extent some details he's said are true.

Anja Zylberberg Spiegelman

Vladek's wife and Art's mother. She is also a Holocaust survivor.
  • Bath Suicide: According to the Prisoners of the Hell Planet.
  • Driven to Suicide: Years after the holocaust, and not only because of it. She also almost committed suicide years before the Holocaust, from severe postpartum depression after Richieu was born.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Art recalls how she was much less strict in his upbringing than his father was. A specific example was how his father would always make Art eat everything on his plate, even if Art hated it, but Anja would secretly sneak him something he liked to eat.
  • Doting Parent: See the abovementioned trope.
  • Hero of Another Story: In a sense, since we never get see/hear her view with her having passed away and her diaries either being destroyed or hidden by Vladek.
  • The Lost Lenore: Anja's death affected her husband greatly to the point that he never really got over it, even after he got remarried.

Françoise Mouly Spiegelman

Art's wife.

Mala Spiegelman

Vladek's second wife. She is also a Holocaust survivor.
  • Awful Wedded Life: Really. Her marriage with Vladek is dysfunctional to such a degree that, in Maus II, she leaves temporarily, taking half of the assets. She only comes back when his health gets worse and that was out of pity (she calls herself a "sucker").
  • Gold Digger: Vladek accuses her of only marrying him for his money.
  • The Masochism Tango: Her marriage to Vladek isn't more than accusations and fighting. Apparently, her being married to Vladek kept him going.
  • No Accounting for Taste: Her marriage to Vladek. They did nothing but fight and she'll complain that he's stingy and he'll complain that she's the abovementioned trope.

Richieu Spiegelman

Vladek and Anja's first son.
  • Death of a Child: He was given to a woman, Tosha, so he'd survive the Holocaust but, unfortunately, we see how well that ended.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Inverted. Art resents him for this. He believes that his parents prefer their rosy memories of Richieu to their living child.
  • Mercy Kill: In a "Better to Die than Be Killed" sense, as Tosha poisoned him and the other children in her care, along with herself, so he wouldn't be gassed to death.
  • Sibling Rivalry: An odd one, as he's passed on but Art resents him.

Lucia Greenberg

Vladek's ex-girlfriend before he met Anja and long before the Holocaust.

Lolek Speigelman

A relative of Vladek and Art.
  • Bookworm: To the point of Skewed Priorities in one instance, as when he couldn't find enough food, he filled his sack intended for food with books, much to the dismay of his starving family.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: He's the only one besides Vladek and Anja of the Spiegelman family to survive.

Mancie

A Hungarian-Jewish woman who helped Anja and Vladek
  • Ambiguous Situation: We don't really know what happened to her, as Vladek failed to find her, so she could either be a case of Killed Offscreen or, if she survived, she might have changed her name and settled down (probably out of the country).
  • Hero of Another Story: She had been appointed as a Kapo at Birkenau uses her position to help other prisoners (risking her life in the process). She is instrumental in securing Anja's survival and is one of the very few people who help the main characters for genuinely altruistic reasons, refusing to accept Vladek offer of food to reward her. Vladek tries to find her after the war, but he never discovers what happened to her.
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