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Nobody Can Understand: A Short Essay On Art Spiegelman’s Maus

864 words - 4 pages

In a world where obsessive power, manipulation, hatred, and the desire to obliterate a single population reign, no one survives untarnished. The Holocaust was a horrific event led by Adolf Hitler that resulted in the persecution, torment, and suffering of millions of Jewish people all over Europe. Vladek Spiegelman survived the ruthless torture from the largest concentration camp during World War II in Auschwitz. His son, Art Spiegelman, tells two stories at once in his book Maus: one of his father’s experiences during the Holocaust and another of his present adversities with his father. Spiegelman’s book is unlike many of this genre. Written as a graphic novel, Maus allows readers to visualize Spiegelman’s feelings giving a new meaning to the famed maxim, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Spiegelman doesn’t simply write another historical account of the Holocaust. Instead, he writes of his father’s experience during the Holocaust as an attempt to not only portray the life of a Jew during that time, but to better understand the relationship he has with his father.
By writing two separate stories within one, Spiegelman is able to represent the life of his father and other Jewish people during the Holocaust. Spiegelman struggles to depict an accurate representation of life during the Holocaust because he never personally experienced it. He is able to give a more honest approach to the horrendous story by replacing humans with animals. The facts from the Holocaust can be easier to accept if there isn’t a human face attached to the terror. He portrays Jews as mice, and Nazis as cats. The relationship of cats and mice is known as constant pursuing and hunting which is symbolic of the relationship between the Jews and the Nazis. There are many historical accounts about the Nazi treatment of Jews during the Holocaust. Spiegelman recognizes a few in his book. There were times when his father traded gold and jewelry in order to provide a little food for his family. (Spiegelman, 86). He also draws the various bunkers that his father hid in giving a visual representation to his father’s story. (Spiegelman, 88, 112, 114, 123, 155). He also described a time when a guard snagged a Jew’s hat and threw it to the side. The Jew had to leave formation to pick his hat up, and the guard shot him for “escaping.” (Spiegelman, 195). During the Holocaust, Jews weren’t living trying to avoid death, they were dying trying to avoid life.
Throughout Maus, Spiegelman notes how he has a challenging time dealing with his father. ...

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