Maus Chapter 6: The Tale of the Two Vladeks

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SWBAT evaluate the conflicting motivations of a character by analyzing the Vladeks' choices in the two timelines in Maus.

Big Idea

Optimist? Pessimist? Victim? Murderer? Students examine the impact of surviving The Holocaust on Vladek.

Let's Get Started: How Does History Shape Our Culture and Identity?

30 minutes

Today is the first day of the "Do our Families Bleed History?" presentations. Each group researched an event from their lifetime that they feel will have a significant impact on the world--or at least their community.   Maus is subtitled, My Father Bleeds History.  While we are reading and analyzing the impact the Holocaust has on the Spiegelman family, the students are working in groups to research a significant event in their lifetime and its possible impact on them and the world around us. These presentations are the result of their research(CCSS SL 9-10 4) .  

The first group examines 9:11:2001 and the second group looks at social media.  I divide the presentations between two classes.  I do not like to use an entire class for presentations unless I have no choice.  The students and I reach a point of diminishing return if we have to sit through too many presentations in a row.  By limiting the number of presentations each day, the students are more engaged in the presentations and look forward to the additional presentations the next class. 

There is both a group presentation rubric and a self and group assessment written by each student in the group.  The self assessment is in the initial project plan that they received when they started to do their research ( ILP maus 2013 ). When designing group projects, it is difficult to ensure that all the group members will put forth their best effort on the project.  I let the students know when we initially start the project that part of their grade is based on a self-assessment and a peer assessment. The packet for the project includes several types of planning sheets, so the students can divide the work and assign tasks. Therefore if a group member does not maximize their contribution to the group, the other group members are not as heavily penalized for one person's lack of effort.  The self-assessment gives students an opportunity to reflect on how well they fulfilled their obligation to the group and analyze their own performance. 

Building Knowledge: Timeline Wrap Up

20 minutes

We made it!!! Chapter 6 is the last chapter of Maus, so we begin our wrap up by discussing the timeline of the book.  We have been exploring how the character develops over the course of the novel by creating a timeline of the two plots of the book. The first focuses on Vladek's life in the 1930s and 40s and the second looks at Vladek's life in the present (CCSS 9-10 3).  The students are already divided into seven groups, each group takes a chunk of the timeline we need to finish or answers a question about how the character evolves from the beginning of the graphic novel.

Group 1:  Vladek’s timeline in chapter 5
Group 2:  Art’s timeline in Chapter 5
Group 3:  Vladek’s timeline in chapter 6
Group 4:  Art’s timeline in chapter 6
Group 5:  How does Vladek’s life change from the beginning of the book until the end of chapter 6 (in his timeline)?
Group 6:  What choices led to Vladek’s and Anja’s final destination?
Group 7: Is Valdek an optimist or a pessimist? What prediction can you make for Vladek’s future? 
After each group has time to answer the complete the timeline or answer the question, I ask the reporter for each group to share their response with the class.  I give students opportunity to ask questions or add information to the timeline. Finally, I have the recorder for each group write the information on the final timeline.


Building Knowledge: Complexities of Father/Son Relationships

20 minutes

Now that we have established the basic facts of the story, it is time to dive into the complexity of the character.  I also remind the students that even though we are talking about characters in a book, they are real people--I ask them if relationships between kids and parents is always clear and easy to understand.  Their response should be: Relationships are complicated.

Now they have to consider how Art sees his father in the two different timelines:  1944 and the present. 

They complete a chart that lists adjectives that describe Vladek in the two timelines.  By comparing and contrasting the adjectives used to describe Valdek in the two timelines, the students can answer the question: How does Valdek's experiences during the Holocaust impact his behavior in the present?

Wrap up: How can Vladek be Both a Victim and a Murderer?

10 minutes

At the end of the book, Vladek and Anja are on a train to Auschwitz. Yet, Art ends the novel by calling his father a murderer in the present.  The list of adjectives on the chart from the prior activity shows the intricacy of Vladek's personality and behavior.  So as a summative assessment, the student have to explain: at the end of chapter 6, how can Vladek be both a victim and a murderer?

The ticket out the door is a response to this question.