In a high school English class, seeing historical books in the curriculum is not uncommon. Finding a graphic novel about historical events is more unusual, but not impossible. If you look into Mr. Redden's English classroom you might find the students reading Maus one and two. These books are graphic novels laid out to look similar to a comic strip, that tell of one survivor's journey throughout the Holocaust.
While most books would feature their characters as humans, Art Spiegelman represents different races as various breeds of animals. For instance, the Jewish people are mice and the German Nazis are cats. In this way, readers are able to distinguish between different races quickly without confusion. Spiegelman also uses the metaphors as they were broadcast during that time period by the Nazi party, which were meant to dehumanize the Jewish people. The elements add a new view to the Holocaust in a way that is easy to read and understand.
Maus - A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History is the first book, which details Vladek Spiegelman's journey from his home in Poland to the concentration camp Auschwitz. Between these points are adventures of hiding, escaping, and experiencing the torture of the concentration camps. The second book Maus - A Survivor's Tale: And Here My Troubles Began, picks up in Auschwitz and tells the rest of Vladek's story. In both books we see the harsh times suffered by all during the Holocaust, and see the war from a different perspective. But the books also tell a second story, that of the author coming to terms with his father’s past and their unique relationship. The books are a new way to view the Holocaust, and to help educate students in our school and across the nation.
by Chloe Carson
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