The Perception of Self in The Last of the Just and Maus I and Maus II Essays

The Perception of Self in The Last of the Just and Maus I and Maus II Essays

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The Shoah altered and blurred the definition of who were considered people. Andre Schwarz-Bart’s The Last of the Just, and Art Spiegelman’s Maus I: My Father Bleeds History and Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began, focuses on the different types of degrading animal and insect images of the Jews during the Shoah. By drawing upon both Edmund Russell’s article and Howard Stein’s article, one can come to understand the consequences that arise from the portrayal of the Jews as either animals or insects within the two novels. Thus, when an individual ceases to identify himself or herself as an animal or an insect, that individual is able to find the strength to cope, and survive such calamities.
It is important to understand how animal and creature imagery have characterized the Jewish population in relation to the Shoah. In the article, “Speaking of Annihilation: Mobilizing for War Against Human and Insect Enemies,” Edmund P. Russell III argues society’s recognition of Jews as “half-human abd half-insect[s]” rather than normal and ordinary people adds even more shock value to the deaths and sufferings that were incurred during the Shoah (Russell 1505). Noticing the way people were portrayed as insects, Russell argues, the word like “exterminate, suggests that these metaphors appealed to long-standing values,” of society (Russell 1509). Therefore, the metaphor of the Jews as insects or animals only propelled the fallacious belief that the Jewish population should be annihilated. These metaphors also continued the prevailing belief that Jews were burdens and were not respectful of their boundaries. These animal and vermin metaphors are clearly used by Andres Schwarz-Bart in The Last of the Just and by Art Spiegelman in both Maus I and M...


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... they feel like there is no opportunity to escape. As seen in both The Last of the Just and Maus I and Maus II, Ernie and Vladek both recognize that whatever actions they choose, whether they may be death, or survival, by realizing the power of their own identity, they are no longer accepting the role as a dehumanized creature, and instead, emerging as victorious



Works Cited

Russell, Edmund P. “Speaking of Annihilation: Mobilizing for War Against Human and Insect Enemies, 1914-1945.” The Journal of American History 82.4 (1996): 1505-1529. JSTOR. Web. 26 Feb. 2014. .
Schwarz-Bart, Andre. The Last of the Just. 1960. Trans. Stephen Becker. Woodstock, NY: Overlook P, 2000. Print.
Spiegelman, Art. Maus: A Survivor’s Tale I and II [My Father Bleeds History (1986); And Here My Troubles Began (1991)]. New York: Pantheon, 1993. Print

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