We’re seeing new animal characters in this chapter – pigs and cats. Do you think Mr. Spiegelman wants us to see each individual in a race or nationality as like all the others? How can you identify a specific character’s picture?

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In Maus, Jews are portrayed as mice, while Germans are portrayed as cats. The metaphor of Jews as mice is taken directly from Nazi propaganda, which portrayed the Jews as a kind of vermin to be exterminated. The cat/mouse relationship is also an apt metaphor for the relationship between the Nazis and Jews: the Nazis toyed with the Jews before ultimately killing them.

The decision to portray different races as different kinds of animals has been criticized as over-simplistic and for promoting ethnic stereotypes. Beneath the simple metaphor, however, is an earnest attempt to illustrate the unyielding stratification by class and race that was very much a part of life in World War II-era Poland. Within the pages of Vladek's story, the Jews are rarely seen socializing with the non-Jewish Poles, except in cases where the Poles serve as janitors, governesses, or other household assistants. The idea of stratification and classification is best illustrated by the man in the concentration camp who claims that he is German, not Jewish, and who is ultimately taken aside and killed. When Art asks his father whether the man was really a German, Vladek replies, "who was German prisoners in there also...But for the Germans this guy was Jewish." There were no shades of gray within the German system of racial classification. Indeed, this middle ground is so rare within the pages of Maus that the only instance of mixed marriage (Shivek's brother, who married a German woman) comes as quite a shock, especially when we see their children, who are drawn as cat/mouse hybrids.


The cats are Nazis; the mice are Jews. Nazi cats are portrayed as hard, they havve squinting accusatory eyes..... it's the proverbial games of cat and mouse. The pigs are a bit different. Their faces are open, which alludes to their friendliness, but  Spiegelman's choice of the pig might possible allude to their greed and selfishness, in addition to the feelings the Jews had for the Poles. The Pigs (Poles) help, but they help for money and wouldn't have without it. They also stood mute against the Nazis, which portrays them as selfish. None-the-less, the Jews consider pigs unclean animals..... according to the depiction, might the jews have viewed the Poles in a negative manner.