Maus (from mouse in German) is a comics, both biographic and autobiographic which transposes the characters into an animal universe : the cats embody the Nazis, the mice embody the Jews, the Poles are represented by pigs, Americans are dogs and the French are frogs.
Besides, the content of this original and striking work, as well as the shape of this comics, is very interesting because of its historical and emotional quality. Indeed, this true story enables us to realize the Nazi’s inhumanity.
In this comics, Art Spiegelman tells his father’s story, Vladek Spiegelman, A Jewish-Pole, undergoing the Nazi’s persecutions,during WWII, from exclusion to extermination. The interest of this work is that not only does it accounts for Vladek’s life but it also teaches the history of the struggle for life that began well before the opening of the camps.
This comics deals, in a complete way, with the events of the second world war given that we are also made to witness the life in ghettos as the liberation of camps and the emigration towards the United States of the finally gathered family. What’s more, in this comics there is a psycological and emotional approach of the events since we can see Vladek telling this story to his son. This way, the words that we read are those of Vladek thus we are as close as possible to his story, we know all his sensations, how he overcame the past and how he and his wife, who has survived too, reconstructed their lives. Moreover, we learn, thanks to the flashbacks between present and past, how Art Spiegelman maganed to build his own life in spite of the agonies of past.
For all these reasons, I strongly recommend the reading of this book that I estimate to be a good preparation for the journey to Auschwitz.
For more informations about Maus, read Eliot Duspaquier’s article.
Camille Lachal – Terminale