Maus: A Survivor's Tale Essay

Maus: A Survivor's Tale Essay

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Maus: A Survivor's Tale, by Art Spiegelman, tells the story of his father's survival in Auschwitz during the Holocaust, as well as about Art's relationship with his father, brought out through the interview process and writing the two books. The subject matter of the two books is starkly juxtaposed with the style in which it was written, that is, it is a graphic novel. In most simple terms, the story is told in a sort of comic, with characters represented as animals based on their race or nationality (Jews are presented as mice, Germans as cats, Poles as pigs, and Americans as dogs). While the cartoon had once been reserved for rather childish and light subject matter, Spiegelman has brought it to a whole new level as a medium capable of deep and meaningful expression. Through his combination of text and image, he is able to tell an unparalleled story with several layers of meaning beyond what is said in each character's thought and speech bubbles, or the captions below them. Their actions, perceptions, and intentions are presented through image, rather than being described to the reader through narrative. This allows for many levels of development and interaction between the characters that may not be overtly obvious or even present, as is often the case when a character may be deceptive or untrue to what they say. It allows for more to be said than simply what the character has to say. This can be clearly seen through a close reading of a page, or set of pages within the graphic novel. The reason for a page is that it is the unit of measurement in this work. Each page is deliberately designed and developed, each square sized with intent, each box's meaning compounded by surrounding boxes. Take for example the 42-43 pa...


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...es he went through writing this novel, providing an introspective aspect that is similar to his early work such as that that is referenced in Maus I, Prisoners on the Hell Planet. This novel is as much a story about the Holocaust as it is about a relationship between a father and son who have difficulty relating due to a tremendous difference in experiences, as well as the pain of terrifying memories that can be passed on through story telling. Maus demonstrates the power of “postmemory”, the idea that memories can be passed on from one generation to the other. These two pages illustrate how Art Spiegelman had to cope with these memories, as well as the other pressures of his life as he wrote this novel. Within these two pages, Spiegelman creates a complex description of the psychology of Art as the writer and in the process greatly expands the focus of the novel.

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