Maus In Schools Final Essay

Submitted By natalieose
Words: 1370
Pages: 6

Natalie Osekowsky
Mr. Sutherland
English 1A
April 28, 2014 Maus in Schools Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize winning graphic novel, Maus is an epic true-life story of his father’s (Vladek Spiegelman) survival of the German invasion of Poland and the chilling extermination of the Jews. Spiegelman’s telling of the war and the horror’s that came with it are brought to life through his rich artistic imagery, which portrays the Jews as mice, Germans as cats, the Polish as pigs, and American’s as dogs. His technique of portraying the different races as being animals allows readers to identify themselves more easily within the characters, which make the horrible reality of the mass genocide seem more real. Something as terrible as the extermination of millions within a race is understandably hard to wrap your mind around when you were not alive to witness the unthinkable that happened, but Spiegelman successfully recreates rich history through the memories of his father whom survived it all. For these reasons, Maus should be a part of high school English curriculum. On a personal note, when I recall sitting in class learning about the horrors that is the Holocaust, images of starving people in cramped bunkers and piles of the deceased Jews lying in trenches play in my mind. I see smoke that expels out of the chimneys of the ovens and the faces of children that died too young. I also remember learning of Elie Wiesel in his shockingly detailed autobiography, Night and tearfully reading through The Diary of Anne Frank. Both of these autobiographies gave insight into the world of those faces that we saw in the pictures of the textbooks. So why is an epic novel such as Maus excluded from being taught in schools? The answer might lie in the fact of what it is considered to be to the ignorant on the topic: a mere comic book. However, when given a chance, “it is a unique take on the Holocaust story that could not be told in any other form” (Mclvor). If presented with such reading material, students can learn history in a new way that they may have never given a chance before and perhaps sink into the minds that learn in a different style from their peers. You can’t expect every individual to learn in the same way or to even be interested in solely traditional literature. A graphic novel as well-done as Maus may be able to reach students that may otherwise have difficulty in learning the traditional pieces and spark some interest in learning in a wider range. The graphic novel genre is one of the most fascinating to learn about in literature. While many may disapprove of the lack of text and the comic style drawings, its contents are pretty remarkable, especially considering such a difficult topic to cover as the Holocaust. Art Spiegelman combines narrative and pictures in such a way that Maus shines, because a picture really is worth a thousand words. It brings new understanding on the matter where text alone cannot. While learning the horrors of the Holocaust, it is very natural for people to want to tune out, we don’t want to believe that something as unimaginable as a mass genocide could ever happen. It is for this reason that Spiegelman uses animals to portray people instead of, well, actual people. Perhaps it’s even his way of dealing with his own inability to comprehend the events of the Holocaust (Oliver). So, if this is how he chooses to deal with wrapping his mind around such a vast and terrible event, then it will most certainly and has worked for others and this does not exclude students that are learning of the Holocaust. This is just one more way that students will be able to put themselves in the lives of the survivors, because when cartooning is done as well as it was done in Maus, readers begin to identify with the characters in such a way that the faces that they see in the book become their own face in place, and understanding takes a new form. If you really want students to remember and leave with a new appreciation