May 11, 2015
Sometimes animals can have similar traits to humans. In Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel,
, he portrays different races as certain animals to further exemplify their behaviors.
Spiegelman uses cats and mice as representations of the Germans and Jews during the Holocaust
in order to assist the reader in understanding their mentalities and personality traits.
The Germans were portrayed as cats because they are powerful, malicious, and are prone
to manipulate their prey or in this case, the Jews. For example, when the German guard was
toying with Mandelbaum. Mandelbaum is on the walk to work when a German guard grabs his
cap away and tells him to go and get it. When he then runs to go pick it up, the guard shoots him
for attempting to escape (II 35). This event shows how the Jews are helpless when facing the
Germans such as how mice are defenseless when in the presence of cats. The Germans abuse
their power and treat the Jews however they choose. Furthermore, when the German Kapo kept
Anja to the job of carrying the large soup cans despite the fact that they are much too heavy for
her weak self. In this series of images, Anja is assigned the job of having to carry soup cans of
which are too overwhelmingly burdensome for her to manage lifting. Although, the Kapo still
forces her to complete the task and beats her severely whenever she spills which occurs quite
often (II 53). These images provide evidence leading us to make the assertion that the Nazis did
not care the slightest bit about the Jewish race and enjoyed tormenting them just as cats like to
torture mice. Instead of just killing the Jews in order to put them out of their misery, they
manipulate and control them. Cats represent the Germans because they are both vicious, violent,
and could not care less about the creatures they mess with.
Spiegelman uses mice to represent all the Jews during the Holocaust because they
innocent, vulnerable, and extremely weak compared to cats or Germans. An example of this is
when the Germans came to Srodula to capture people to take back with them to Auschwitz
concentration camp, most of whom are children: “Most they took were kids some only 2 or 3
years. Some kids were screaming and screaming. They couldn’t stop. So the Germans swinged
them by the legs against a wall… And they never anymore screamed” (I 108). This quotation
demonstrates how mice are completely impotent when it comes to how they are treated by cats.
The young Jewish children are so innocent, yet the Germans still have the audacity