Maus is a two-volume graphic novel written by Art Spiegelman from the visits he made to New York to visit his father, Vladek. Vladek was a survivor of the Holocaust and Polish Jew living, his survival and the visits that Art made helped create this graphic novel. This story analyzes the relationship between Art and his father, Vladek. Vladek is portrayed as ambitious lighthearted young man and as his story unravels from his recollections of the horrors that the Holocaust brought him, that Vladek becomes the way he is after he is placed in a hellish prison by Hitler, an awful man. Behind all of the trauma that these concentration camps have affected Vladek in the past, Art comes to terms with the way that this changed his father. His character has been shaped completely due to the Holocaust and throughout the story you are able to see that Vladek cannot lead a normal life after this trauma. In the story, each character was given animal names such as: cats, mice, frogs. The cats preying on the mice in the comic are portrayed as how the Jews, that were mice, were massacred by the cats.
This issue of the Holocaust has affected both Art and Vladek. Vladek reveals some traumatic characteristics from the Holocaust which reflect his relationships with others. His life started from nothing, and then he had married Anja, which turned his life around. His life was full of happiness until the German invasion happened, he lost everything including his son, Richiue. All of this trauma affected his mental state and behavior, hence the drifting from Art and his second wife, Mala.
The techniques of juxtaposition and the framing oppose the thoughts that were attained and put together Arts conversations with Vladek’s past. This use was formed from Vladek’s manner of telling his story in order for Art to create this comic it had to follow in order. The use of this helped the author put together the originality of the story.
The way that Art used dark comics to form this novel showed the reality of what Vladek really lived through. The Holocaust was a very dark and horrific time and by using the shading technique that Art did, helps the audience feel what Vladek was feeling and see what Vladek saw. Personally, I grew up learning about the Holocaust at a young age because I had family members that were a part of it, and I was always told that this was one of the most important things being a Jew. While reading this story, I appreciated how each panel was drawn in a gloomy and dismal way, so that people really understand what was going on during this time. Sometime images speak louder than words itself, and that’s what I think Art wanted to portray while writing this comic.
The visual style that Art chose to use distances this comic from Spiegelman’s past. However, this style uses humor in his work, while also utilizing some metaphor. The illustrations of Jews as mice and Nazis as cats were used so the reader can associate these certain characteristics to the animal’s characteristics. For example, the mice are drawn to be helpless and anxious which makes sense for them to represent the Jews because they were the prey for the Nazis. On the other hand, the Nazis were represented as cats which acted powerful which also makes sense because the Nazis became in charge of the Jews and took advantage of them. This also makes sense because if you think, the size of cats compared to the size of mice, cats are much larger than mice which is why how Art characterized the Nazis and Jews, it was easy to understand why he did that. There was one part in Volume 2, chapter 2 that I thought was very interesting. Art appears not as a mouse, but a human with a mouse mask on. You can see that during this part of the story, Art seems to be struggling, his father had passed away and Art has been put under so much weight after writing this comic. This is an example of how Art incorporates the transitions of past and present throughout the novel, the chapter starts out saying “time flies…” and then after Art himself speaks about the troubles he is running into, the chapter goes to “and so…” which carries on with Vladek’s life story in Auschwitz.
Spielgelman used the past and present transitions to show Vladek’s recollection of his memories and to re-create it into a comic. This is definitely one way that brings out originality in Art’s work and it also helps the reader understand the growth of Vladek’s story.
He used this to paint a clear picture of these horrific for the readers. Incorporating both the past and the present events, they mesh together in a way that shows the difficult experiences that Vladek went through and his relationship with his son, Art.
I enjoyed that this graphic novel was displayed as a graphic novel, and I think that it engaged the reader more if it would be a normal story without the descriptive panels, the way that it was shown. The Holocaust is a very hard time in a lot of people’s life, and it impacted my life, which. Makes me appreciate that Art turned his father’s story into a comic book because it gives the reader a real look into someone’s horrible life during that time.
Overall, Maus not only portrayed the terrible horrors the Vladek went through during the Holocaust, but also the fact that Art felt that disconnect with his father who had survived this devastation. It’s true that many family members of Holocaust survivors go through the same thing that Art did, I can account for it because I have a family member who was in a similar position. In the piece written in the middle of the comic, Prisoner on the Hell Planet, which was something that demonstrated Art’s own feelings because it is about how he got through a painful loss of his mother dying from suicide.