Powerfully Real

Even though Art Spiegelman drew all the people as animals it didn’t take away from the seriousness of the story in fact it added to it. The reason behind his drawing it this way is pure symbolism. Jews were symbolized as mice, seen by the Germans as vermin and lowly creatures. Police were represented as pig, which is pretty self-explanatory. Germans were quite appropriately drawn as cats, seeing themselves as superior, stronger, etc. It’s classic cat vs. mouse. Cats run the mice out and kill the mice; ridding the world of vermin.

A page from Maus by Art Spiegelman

The way Spiegelman tells the story makes it feel all the more real. He doesn’t simply tell and illustrate his father’s story but he tells it through his father’s voice and the way his father told it to him, tangents included. Stories are always more enjoyable when a character’s dialog is written exactly the way they speak and in Maus Vladek, Spiegelmen’s father, obviously has broken English. Spiegelman writes his father’s words, not his own, because it’s his father’s story, a true story, and when it’s purely Vladek the story is more powerful. You don’t get to allow yourself to forget that it’s true because of the manner in which it was presented.

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4 thoughts on “Powerfully Real

  1. I love how simply put and straight forward your blog is. I completely agree with you. The way Art illustrates the characters may at first be seen as a clever way to get the readers attention, but it is purely a symbolic way he represents all the characters. At first glance, seeing the innocent faces of the Art and his father as these mice, I got a feeling it might be a little light read. But how could a story covering the Holocaust be a light read? And not just any story, a narrative? After reading Part one of his book, I realized how deep and very difficult it was to actually read this. Especially knowing that some of the horrifying images are what really happened, if not all the images. Art Spiegelman has really taken the art of comics and of graphic narratives to a whole new level. Great blog! Can’t wait to read part two of his book. Hannah Sauceda

  2. I love your view on the symbolism Speigelman uses. At first to be honest, I was super confused about why he didn’t just use real people. We would expect for him to use real people, in such a serious subject like the Holocaust. I honestly also was confused why Art’s Father’s English was weird…at first I thought it was a typo in my book haha! But reading your blog helped me understand why the author chose to make his father’s English broken; it definitely contributes to the realism throughout the narrative. This book has really given me a different view on comics/graphic narratives!

  3. Personally, I think your blog precisely includes the overall content of “Maus” by Art Spiegelman. I liked when you said “the way Spiegelman tells the story makes it feel all the more real” because reading Maus, brought memories back to me from 14 years ago. My country, Kosovo was on the war with Serbia, and people from Kosovo were treated from Serbians the same way as Jews were treated from Germans. I do remember every single moment of that war, so while I was reading Maus, it made me emotionally sad, and some of the pictures represented the true dramatic view of the war. Even though images that are shown in the Maus include animals as characters, it makes the story more powerful, and meaningful. Again, as you said, this story is enjoyable because it is written as it was told.

  4. Great post! Well-written, honest, and to the point. I loved how you started talking about Spiegelman’s use of animals to illustrate his father’s story and the reason behind it. Your explanation makes perfect sense and I also think the use of animals made our connection with the characters a lot easier. For me, using animals helped me recognize the characters in a faster way than if he had used real people. Overall I think the use of animals was a brilliant idea and it also served a functional purpose. Another thing I love about the way Spiegelman tells his father’s story is the fact he uses broken English. You stated very well, “Spiegelman writes his father’s words, not his own, because it’s his father’s story, a true story, and when it’s purely Vladek the story is more powerful.” It definitely made everything sound more authentic and meaningful. At first, I didn’t understand the reason but it didn’t bother me at all. Then after reading your post I began to appreciate this even more!

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