MAUS

Anthropomorphism and Race in Maus

In Maus, Art Spiegelman produces what can be seen as a reaction to the Holocaust and its complicated aftermath. It is a graphic representation of the various horrors of the Holocaust and he chooses to make his characters anthropomorphic. One may argue that in an individual story that is as hard hitting as Vladek’s, the use of the same animal caricature-like heads to denote various races serves to trivialize the story. However, Spiegelman’s use of anthropomorphic characters serves a number of important purposes that, it may be argued, justify his technique and counterbalance the negative viewpoints that can be expressed against it.

It must be kept in mind that Spiegelman is not simply dealing with the Holocaust in an academic, somewhat detached and objective manner. He is dealing with the very personal reality of the Holocaust survival story of his father and mother and simultaneously his own often ambivalent feelings about them. Everything about his life, it may be argued, has in some way been essentially touched by the Holocaust because his parents both went through it. Thus, Spiegelman is bound to feel very strongly about the subject matter involved.

In the “Prisoner on the Hell Planet” we see that these strong feelings are...

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