Art Spiegelman’s Maus is a novel about the Vladek and his experience as a Polish Jew during the Holocaust. It narrates the reality of the Holocaust wherein millions and millions of Jews were systematically killed by the Nazi regime. One of the themes in the story is racism which is evident in the employment of animal characters and its relationship with one another.
The Jews are mice, Nazis are cats, Poles are pigs and Americans are dogs.
Holocaust and racism are two inseparable elements. This is because Holocaust was a direct result and the culmination of the Nazi German’s intolerance to the Jewish race. However, racism which includes racial anti-Semitism was an integral part of Nazism. This is evident in (1) how the author represented the relationship of the Nazis and Jews with that of a cat and a mouse and (2) Vladek’s racist perception towards African Americans.
The author illustrated his characters as different types of animals where in the Jews are represented as mice and the Germans as cats. This representation proposes how the Jews facing the Nazis are as helpless as a mouse caught by a cat. The first part for instance, is introduced by a quotation from Hitler in which he deprives the Jewish race of human qualities by reducing them to a mere vermin: “The Jews are undoubtedly a race but they are not human: (Spiegelman I, 4).
In the second part, Spiegelman further emphasized the lowly qualities of mice and associate it with the Nazi’s lowly perception of the Jewish race.
“Mickey Mouse is the most miserable ideal ever revealed… Health emotions tell every
independent young man and every honourable youth that the dirty and filth-covered
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...t can be argued that Art Spielgelman’s Maus is a work which portrays racism. The concept of racism and discrimination is evident in various parts and scenes of the book. In particular, racism is portrayed with how the author used stereotyping, in this case, the Polish are stereotyped as a race which is not only dirty but indifferent as well. Lastly, racism is portrayed with how the author used his protagonist to represent the complexity of racism.
Geis, Deborah. Consdering Maus: Aprroaches to Art Spiegelman’s Survivor’s Tale of the
Holocaust. Alabama: University of Alabama Press, 2007
Kolar, Stanislav. Animal Imagery in Kosinki’s The Painted Bird and Spiegelman’s Maus,
Unpublished thesis, University of Ostrava, 2012
Spiegelman, Art. Maus. London: Penguin Books Limited, 2003
Spieß, Patrick. Characterization and symbolism in Maus. NY: Grin Verlag, 2011
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