This study will compare Art Spiegelman's animated non-fiction work Maus and Franz Kafka's fictional tale "The Metamorphosis," focusing on the depictions of the families in the two pieces. The study will discuss the concept of the family as a paradigm of culture in both works, and will consider the external forces which affect family reality and family dynamics. The two families face different obstacles which threaten them, and they respond in different ways with different results. The argument of this study is that the two families are torn, but they survive at least in part.
The family in Maus is torn asunder by the Nazi efforts to destroy everything Jewish, including and especially the family which is the glue of the Jewish culture. The family members who are killed are obviously not able to be a part of the family any longer, except in memory. The other members of the Spiegelman family, including children such as Art himself, are scarred forever by their experience.
The three survivors in the Samsa family in "The Metamorphosis," on the other hand, can be said to be happier than ever after the death of Gregor. They not only survive, they seem to be prospering, however illusory that prosperity might prove to be in the long run. In any case, the happiness they seem to be experiencing at the end of the story is not a testament to human love or endurance, but to the selfish relief they feel after the death of their brother and son in his beetle form.
The forces at work against the Spiegelman family are almost entirely external. The forces at work against the Samsas are almost entirely internal---except for the fact that the intensity of the Samsas' horror and disgust at Gregor's beetleness is in part due to the fear of social stigmatization.
Another difference is that the Spiegelman's family is much better off financially at the beginning of their ordeal than the Samsas are, and seem to be much more involved in life ...