The Role Of Animals In Maus By Art Spiegelman

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In his graphic novel, “Maus”, Art Spiegelman tells a survivor’s tale of his father, Vladek Spiegelman. Valdek was a Jewish-Polish survivor of World War II. He endures many hardships as the graphic novel progresses, including but not limited to the loss of his first son, Richieu, numerous prison camps, and bankruptcy. However, what is unique about this graphic novel is the way it is illustrated—animals replace humans as the characters of the story. Jews are portrayed as mice, the Germans as cats, the Poles as pigs, the non-Jewish Americans as dogs, the French as frogs, etc. But why so? Choosing an animal for a group of people aided in telling the survivor’s tale. Spiegelman chose animals as characters because doing so provides distinctions between …show more content…
The American are portrayed as dogs. Unlike the other animals in the graphic novel, the dogs have varying faces. An African-American, for example, has a black face. These varying features may represent the diversity in America at that time, continuing till present day. Also, since they are dogs, they supposedly are meant to “chase away” the cats, who are the Nazis, ultimately saving the Jews. America entered the war due to Germany cutting off the supplies that America was providing to the Allied Troops, consisting of England, France, China and Russia. Furthermore, with Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, President Franklin Roosevelt successfully declared war on Japan in retaliation. Germany and Italy declaring war on America finalized the United States’ involvement in the matter. Swiss people are portrayed as reindeer. The shyness of the very animal is likely a reference to Switzerland’s neutrality throughout the course of World War II. With a few exceptions, the Poles were not a friendly people. Though there is no confirmation, this is why Spiegelman chose to depict the Poles as pigs. The kapos in the prison camps were harsh to Vladek and the other Jews. The drinking pigs who managed to smuggle Vladek and Anja into Hungary ended up turning the couple over to Germans. Frogs are representatives of the French people, due to the Flag of Charlemagne, which has three toads on it. The toads are mistakenly understood to be frogs often. There is no other reason for Spiegelman to choose frogs as the French, other than to distinguish them. However, in the beginning of Book II, He is confused as to whether to draw his French wife, Francoise Mouly, as a frog, or a Jew. Mouly, however, was intent on having him draw her as a mouse, despite her background. In addition, she had converted to Judaism just to please Spiegelman’s father. From this, one can understand that Mouly values religious identity the

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