The aim of ‘Maus’ is not primarily written to show the realistic portrayal of the Holocaust but more so Art can continue to understand his father’s experiences in the Holocaust. Art goes on his own journey to better understand his identity as a Jewish man and a second-generation Holocaust survivor. ‘Maus’ is a good representation of how the Holocaust tragically affects people who were involved in the disastrous event, and even people who weren’t. Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel does use imagery, narrative structure, metaphors and characterisation to show the Holocaust in a realistic way, although this is not the primary aim.
Art Spiegelman in ‘Maus’ uses imagery, narrative structure and characterisation to realistically portray the horrors of the Holocaust. The way Art Spiegelman uses different animals for each different race is a use of imagery and a main metaphor in the novel. The Germans are portrayed as cats, the Jews are portrayed as mice and the Poles are portrayed as pigs. In the Holocaust the Germans were always more powerful than the Jews, as cats are more powerful than mice. Art Spiegelman has used a hierarchy of animals to show the realistic way of how the holocaust minimised the affected people races. Another example of imagery that Art has used is on 1, there is a path in the shape of a swastika representing that the Germans have taken over and that Vladek and Anja are now lost and have nowhere to go.
Throughout the book Art Spiegelman uses a non-linear narrative structure, as well as a multi-voiced and circular structure, to show his father’s story about the Holocaust in addition to his own journey as a Jew and the continuous growth of his and Vladek’s relationship. ‘Maus’ is written as a first person narrative and the comic strips tell the story in third person, which helps us to better comprehend more of the story as we are able to see how Art has interpreted his father’s story while at the same time hearing about Vladek’s journey. ‘Maus’ uses flashbacks from Vladek’s past story, back to the present, which helps the reader to understand the affect the Holocaust has had on not only Vladek but also Art which makes the story more human. As Art quotes “But Pop- it’s great material. It makes everything more real- more human” We are able to read about their thoughts and everything they felt at that time. If ‘Maus’ was written in only first person, we wouldn’t get to see the whole story that is being told. The creative structures Art has used in ‘Maus’ helps us to see two people’s story in one novel.
During ‘Maus’ we begin to see that the Holocaust not only had a major impact on Vladek, but also his son Art. Art Spiegelman suffers as a second generation Holocaust survivor. This is shown in many aspects of the book. One example is the way Art feels suffocated by his father, “Until I have to spend any time with him-then he drives me crazy!” Vladek has an excessively fixated and obsessive attitude toward money and health. Having lack of money and poor health while living in the Holocaust has resulted to this. Vladek’s controlling attitude has a big impact on Art because his father’s behavior has caused him to feel smothered. The little things like the way Vladek fusses over “I can’t eat on my diet any sodium. I don’t need even one container salt, and here it’s two open salts!” And the way he blames everything on everyone around him and not himself. Art can see how his father has been affected and he said himself that he feels inadequate to write the story ‘Maus’ about his father. The negativity of the past events has rubbed off…