MAUS Essay Questions

  1. 1

    Though the author was born in Sweden after the end of the Holocaust, the events have nevertheless had a profound effect on his life. Discuss the nature of these effects and why the Holocaust remains such a formative event.

  2. 2

    What is the significance of the author's decision to portray people of different races and nationalities as different animals? What effect does this have on the understanding and impact of the story?

  3. 3

    Maus is written in the rather unconventional form of a graphic novel. Is this format an effective means of telling a Holocaust narrative? How might it differ from a more conventional Holocaust narrative?

  4. 4

    To what degree was Vladek's survival based on luck, and to what degree was his survival based on his considerable resourcefulness?

  5. 5

    To what extent are Vladek's aggravating personality traits a product of his experiences during the Holocaust?

  6. 6

    Discuss Art's portrayal of his father. Is it a fair portrayal? What feelings does Art have about this portrayal?

  7. 7

    Throughout Maus, Art is consumed with guilt. Discuss these different forms of guilt. How do they relate to one another? How do they differ?

  8. 8

    The second chapter of Book II of Maus begins with a third level of narrative, which takes place in 1987, nine years after Art began working on Maus and five years after the death of his father. What is the purpose of this narrative, and what does it tell us about the author's relationship with his father and with the Holocaust?

  9. 9

    Compare Vladek's marriage to Mala with his previous marriage to Anja. Why is Vladek's relationship with Mala so contentious, while his relationship with Anja was so filled with love?

  10. 10

    Though Maus focuses largely on the Jewish people, the narrative generally avoids issues of religion. To what extent are the major characters religious? What role does religion play in their lives?