“if you look them together in a room with no food for a week, Then you could see what it is, Friends!” (Art,6) Maus is one of most well know comic books written by Art Spiegelman , which talk about Spiegelman’s father, Vladek, and his experience as a Polish Jew during the Holocaust.In this comic book, the different races and nationalities are represented as different kinds of animals. Some people think represent different nations as different kinds of animals is promoting ethnic stereotypes. However, The true is Spiegelman tries to use ethnic stereotypes to break down the allegory that someone believes or believed was true. It makes a funny animal picture to more intuitional analysis characteristic and help readers understand the relationship between character and provide distant between the character roles.
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The choice of animal is significant. It depends on what representations of a race they have and make reader more intuitional analysis characteristic between different race. In this story, Different animal characters play various cultural and racial stereotypes. For example, Art renders the Jewish characters into mice. This image lies on Nazi’s racist idea that Jews are less than human, “vermin of mankind.” We can see it from “Inside this garbage hole was here separated a tiny space- maybe only 5 feet by 6 feet…..But in there was living Mloch, His wife and their 3-years-old boy”(Art,153) The whole family live in a garbage hole as same as rice. It is dirty, dark and moist. There are no bed, no tv and no warm fireplace. German treats Jewish as a not human being. They can be killed on the street for no reason. People would not say sorry to kill a mouse. Also in many literature rice act for someone selfish, greed. We can see that from “He only gives me $50 a month. When I need a pair of stockings I have to use my own savings!”(Art,130) The greed for money Jews show also is one of the main characteristic of rice. They hate to share. Even for the person they love.
Escape Jewish, Pole people are described as pigs. Art not only use natural animal “pig” characteristic to represent, short-sight, stupid and dull. But also use the animal “symbol quality”. The word “pig” is considered to be an insult in the whole world. In many cultures,especial in Jewish, pigs are treat as dirty, filthy, and greedy animals. Like Art say “‘And considering the bad relations between Poles and Jews for the last hundred years in Poland, it seemed right to use a non-Kosher animal.’”() Art is meaning to build a negative definition to Pole. We can see that from earlier in the story there is a female pig who hides Vladek’s family. However, Money was the true motivation. When the German people come, Polar yell at them and let them get out(Art,143) They don’t be nice to Jewish.
Art uses animals to portray character is helping reader to better understand the complex relationship between race and nationalities. In nature word, we have survival chain——survival of the fittest(Herbert,37). The definition gives us a “tool” to analysis. The cat and mouse relationship is a metaphor for the relationship between the German and Jews: the German toyed with the Jewish before ultimately killing them. It is all to know that Hitler led German massacre Jewish. Jews are being captured, tortured, enslaved, killed. They have no right, no home and no food. Any German can catch them for no good cause and killed them on the street just because they feel boring. One of the example from book, “Some kid was screaming and screaming. They couldn’t stop. So the Germans winged them by the legs against a wall. And they never anymore screamed.”(Art,108) Nazi cats have no problem in systematically killing off the Jewish mice even they are just children. In their eye, Jewish are all inferior people who can be arbitrarily disposal. As natural enemies, Natural sworn enemies. The “cat” has absolutely power. They have the right to control rice fate. They are high class.
The animal metaphor also provides distance between the character role. In society, we cannot easily separate people in different group. People are identical. We all human being. However in this story is different. Beneath the simple metaphor, It illustrates the social stratification by class and race in story. We are all animal. But we are not similar. There are no gray space. We are cat, pig and rat. We are elegant, stupid and humble. In the pages of Vladek’s memory, the Jews are rarely interact with The non-Jewish Poles, except in cases where the Poles serve as janitors, officer, or other government assistants. ( )Jewish people cannot integrate into Polar group. The people in the concentration camp is best illustrated the idea of stratification and classification. In the middle of the book, One if Vladek’s friend claims that he is one of German group, not Jewish. However, he still is ultimately taken aside and killed. When Art asks his father whether the man was really a German, Vladek replies, “who knows…it was German prisoners in there also…But for the Germans this guy was Jewish.” (Art )
Not only Jewish and Polar, German people also have a strong national belonging. “Well, Jew don’t worry. We will find a job to you”(Art,51) The quotes show how ignorant and arrogant the Nazis are. In their mind, “Jew” is “Jew”. He and Jewish are not in the same class. There were no shades of gray within the German system of racial classification. German race are pure and dignity, humble Jewish don not desire to share same right with them. Even when those officer calls Vladek and his friend, they just use the simple word “Jew”.
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War has no winner. The war is more cruelty than what Maus describe. Holocaust just one of the page. As the perfect masterpiece of nature, people plunge into the most stupid thing–kill. Art use Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory represent a big picture about the dark of war, the merciless, the dirty. In his story, the animal stand for race and nation. It helps us to better understand the characteristic, the relationship, the deeper diversity society.
- MetaMaus: A Look Inside a Modern Classic, Maus (New York: Pantheon, 2011),
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