The Complete Maus Literary Analysis

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In The Complete Maus, Art Spiegelman uses his style of illustration to convey the theme of power in his graphic novel. In 1980, cartoonist Art Spiegelman wrote the first volume of Maus. Before Art’s work came into prominence, comics had not been truly acknowledged as art. His work would practically evolve graphic novels into a recognized form of literature. Art Spiegelman was born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1948 to Vladek and Anja Spiegelman, but his family immigrated to Rego Park in Queens, New York three years later. His father, Vladek, was a wealthy textile salesperson and manufacturer in Poland. Both of his parents survived confinement to the Jewish ghettos and imprisonment in the Auschwitz Nazi Concentration camp in Poland. His mother, Anja,…show more content…
Spiegelman uses the graphic novel to depict the horrors of the Holocaust. The graphic novel follows Art Spiegelman as he interviews his father, Vladek, about his experience during the Holocaust. At this point in time, Vladek is elderly and has a troubled relationship with his second wife, Mala. Art is frustrated by his father’s frugality and the fact that he always wants to spend time with him. They have a bonding experience over Vladek sharing his stories, which are fascinating to him. The story details Vladek’s life as he moves from wealth to poverty, falls in love with his first wife, Anja, raises a son, Richieu, and survives Auschwitz. The author depicts Jews as mice, the Polish as pigs, and the Nazis as cats, which serves as an metaphor of the dehumanizing events of the Holocaust (Art Spiegelman: Biography, Artist, Maus). Vladek’s will to live allows him to survive through the horrors of being helped captive in the concentration camps, which included being separated from his wife, nearly starving to death, watching his friends die, hearing about the deaths of family members, and other tragedies. Vladek in present-day is a very strange man, he does things like counting his pills and returning opened boxes of cereal to the grocery store expecting a refund. His traits frustrate Art and they clash often, even though that the habits that Art considers to be strange might have been the habits that kept Vladek alive. He survives a train ride because he eats snow from the roof, he becomes friends with a Polish guard because he teaches him to speak English, and he teaches himself how to mend shoes and becomes the official cobbler of the camp. He is always thinking about the next step towards survival. The author respects this quality in his father but is also critical of how it has shaped Vladek into a very compulsive
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