In the book Maus I, why are people portrayed as animals? For example, why are the Germans depicted as cats and the Jews as mice?

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mizzwillie | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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In the book Maus I by Art Spiegelman, people are portrayed as animals for several reasons.  Spiegelman is a cartoonist who used his art form to tell his father's story to get to know the withdrawn, grim man whom he really didn't know.  The use of animals was  because the Nazis saw the Jews as vermin often referring to them as rats or vermin on posters or in speeches and cats kill mice.   The other reason Jews were portrayed as mice was for the horrors depicted in the book.  Vladek talks about hiding and about what happened  to people.  If the cartoonist showed small children being shot or thrown up in the air for target practice, readers might not have been able to read the book.  With the use of animals, mice give the readers some distance to read, understand and feel what the Jews went through.

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