Racism In Maus

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What is the significance of the authors 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?

Art Spiegelman’s horrifying graphic novel Maus depicts the struggles and pain endured by the Jews during the Holocaust. Spiegelman’s choice to portray the people in Maus as different animals, depending on their race, nationality and religion effected how the readers understood the story by reinforcing how inhuman and draconian the actions the Nazis’ directed were. It also impacted the brutality of the event, by signifying that the reality of the Holocaust is too harsh. Furthermore, the cat, mouse and dog metaphors created greater depth into how
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This was distinctively visible when the Jews “came out to a bunker” to hide from the hunting Nazis. They appeared small and sneaky and this hiding action resembled the allegory almost identically. Another resemblance between the Jews and Mice to the metaphor was seen in the illustrations throughout the book - the cats were drawn bigger, with a broader build, in comparison to the small and skinny Jews. This symbolised their height in the animal kingdom in comparison to the mice. When the Jews are repetitively tyrannised by the Nazis, ‘of course, [nobody] … said a word.’ This links back to the metaphor, where a timid mouse would silently wait, helpless to respond to what was happening. In addition to the cat and mice, dogs were also included in the metaphoric approach used in Maus. The dogs in Maus represented the Americans. This is fitting due to the real-life action of dogs chasing cats. They intimidate and dominate over cats, and are ultimately the heroes, as they played a major part in ending World War II. The American dogs saved the Jewish mice from the German cats. Representing the people in Maus as different animals strengthened the readers understanding of the story, by making the unthinkable behaviour relatable to the animal…show more content…
Although by drawing the characters as animals the mental suffering is minimised. Providing a readable story. In the segment “prisoner on hell planet” the characters are drawn as human, this justaposes against the rest of the book. It is deep and painful, and sends shivers down the readers’ spine. If the whole story was written like this that it would be too mentally traumatising to read. Therefor displaying the characters as animals lessened the discomfort and made it palatable to people who may otherwise steer away from the realistic tragedy, that needs to be
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