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Tear Jerker / Maus

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  • The ending to the second book (and thus the whole story), one of the most powerful moments of the story, when Vladek slowly goes to sleep and tells Art goodbye... but addresses him as "Richieu", which gives more fuel to Art's previously mentioned feelings that his parents had always loved their dead child more than him. The next and final panel shows Vladek's and Anja's tombstone.
  • There's also the reunion of Vladek and Anja, which is half sweet beyond words and half heart-wrenching when you realize what happens to Anja later. In spite of that, Vladek's unreliable narration, "We were both very happy, and lived happy, happy ever after."
  • How exactly Richieu died. Vladek and Anja sent him to live with another woman in hopes that he'd be safe, only for her to poison herself and the children at the threat of being sent to Auschwitz.
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    • And before that, Vladek's friend Ilzeki tells him that he is going to give his own son to a Pole for safekeeping. He offers to send Richieu as well, but Vladek's family refuse. A year later, they had to give Richieu to go with Tosha anyway, and it was all for naught. The fact that Ilzeki's son survived means that Richieu had a very real chance to survive the Holocaust, but did not.
  • There is a moment near the end where Anja sees the picture of her living husband. Only it was no mouse, it was an ACTUAL photograph of Vladek Spiegelman, a man, a human. It is a simplistic, yet powerful reminder of what the Nazis failed to see, and a reminder that this entire story actually happened.
  • Near the end, there is a story told to Vladek about a Jew who survived all of the Nazi atrocities and attempted to return to his home, only to find that Poles had taken it for their own and are very unhappy to see the rightful owner return. With no idea what else to do, the Jew sleeps in a room behind the place. The Poles find him there and hang him.
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  • The last time we (and Vladek) see Anja's father, he is crying as he is being deported to Auschwitz. This is even after Vladek tried to bribe his Jewish police relative, who took the jewels, but sent the old man to his doom. What's even sadder is Vladek remarking that with all his wealth, his father-in-law couldn't even save himself, let alone most of his family
  • The characters themselves can be tearjerkers. We have Art, a man who feels as though he will never be as loved by his parents as his dead brother, feels personally responsible for his mother's suicide, as explained through a comic he made, one of the only sections where humans are used, and the fact he doesn't feel worthy enough to tell this story, having all this guilt and responsibility stacked upon himself during the story. Then there's his father, who changed from an upstanding young man to an extremely frugal old man who doesn't respect his new wife, and is racist towards African-Americans. While his experience in the Holocaust and losing his entire family can explain some of his behavior, other survivors contrasting with his behavior shows that something else happened to him.
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  • The comic Art made about his mother's suicide is pretty depressing. It stands out in the book, as it's the only part where humans are shown in their entirety (without masks, like Art sometimes has to segue into the book), and shows how badly off their family was.
  • The fact that Vladek died before the book was finished. It's Vladek's story, but he never got to live to see the finished product.
  • It's an observation shared by at least some children of Holocaust survivors, but it's still a tearjerker all the same: Art told Francoise that as a child he used to think all adults moan in their sleep.
  • Anja's utter breakdown when Lolek refuses to hide with her and Vladek. She's already lost so many family members, and now she knows she's going to lose her nephew who she probably feels personally responsible for. It's only in the second book do they find out that Lolek lived.
  • The reveal that Vladek burned all of Anja's diaries, cutting Art off not only from a valuable first-person resource for the story but also from a chance to understand, and come to terms with his mother's suicide.
  • Vladek's observation about Auschwitz: "But here God didn't come. We were all on our own." It has a double meaning: life in a concentration camp is a horrific free-for-all, but in that tragedy human kindness shines through even brighter.
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