Ingredients for Survival Amanda Greene 03/25/04 American Studies 8/9
Introduction Through history as well as through survivors’ stories, such as Maus, it is apparent that there were few survivors of World War II and that many more lives were lost than those that were saved. As a result of this, many people ponder the questions of why some people died and others survived the war and what the survivors did differently from the victims, that helped them to live. It was not easy to live through the torment from the Germans throughout World War II, however in order to survive, it was necessary for people to maintain their emotional and physical strength. In addition, without the hope, luck, perseverance, strength, and the skills of individuals, survival could not exist.
HOPE Hope was necessary for survival during the war. Many people gave up on life, while others kept their heads high, and hoped for the best. In Maus, when Vladek gets a number tattooed on his arm, he is lucky to have someone point out to him that his number has significant meaning. When a priest points out to him that the numbers add up to eighteen, and in Hebrew eighteen is Chai, or life. Because of this situation, Vladek was very hopeful and his self esteem and hope was brought up. He was ready for what was to come, and kept his hopes high. Maus II, 28
LUCK In times of war survival is a matter of luck, knowing the right people or simply just being in the right place at the right time. If someone knows the right person or has the right connection they are lucky enough to live. In Maus, Vladek becomes a tutor, and in exchange for his skills, he is given plenty of food and clothes to fit his need. However, most people in the war, weren’t as lucky as Vladek, and were not given such great treatment. Maus II, 32
SKILL It was an advantage to be multi- skilled or pretend to be skilled in occupations. Vladek knew that if there was a job opportunity, he better take it. Whether or not he knew how to do the job. For example, he didn’t know how to repair shoes, so he learned. He accommodated the needs of the Germans, so that he could survive the war. Maus II, 60
PHYSICAL CONDITION It was a great advantage during the war to be in good shape. During marches or long walks, such as the Bataan Death March, if people weren’t in good physical condition they collapsed and couldn’t make the walk. Very few people survived this march to death, and they survived because they were in shape to make it that far. http://ghostofbataan.com/image2/deathma rch.jpg
PERSEVERANCE During World War II it was necessary to follow orders and to stay on task. Though it was hard, it was also very important to keep going and not give up. When it was necessary for women to work, they took it as an opportunity to help and do something. This slogan, “We can do it” really symbolizes how women can work and help out just as men do. http://www.feministcampus.org/images/egreetin g/rosie_the_riveter.jpg