Maus Questions and Answers
by Art Spiegelman

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Taking into account both Maus I and II, how does Art Spiegelman use symbolism and art in depicting the Holocaust?

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Art Spiegelman’s two-volume graphic history of his parents’ experiences in German concentration camps during the Holocaust employs its most prevalent and blatant symbolism in the manner in which he depicts different categories of people, primarily, the Germans and their Jewish victims.  The title of his story, Maus, is the actual German translation of mouse.  Appropriately, the characters depicting Jews are all mice, which can be interpreted variously as both small and weak and, in the view of their Nazi tormentors, as vermin.  The Germans, conversely, are portrayed as cats, the natural predators of mice, and animals that are considerably larger and stronger.  This depiction of the real-life figures from the Holocaust as cats and mice is used by Spiegelman to symbolize the relationship between Nazi Germany and European Jews, who were systematically rounded-up, transported in cattle cars to concentration camps, and exterminated. 

Spiegelman’s use of animals to symbolize...

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