Son and Father Relationship in Maus

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 Maus is a comic written by the American Art Spiegelman. It is divided into two parts: the first one entitled ‘My father bleeds history and the second ‘And there my problems began’. Maus is intimate, hard, sincere, and captivating work. The author himself, Art (‘Artie’), becomes a character to ask his father, the Polish Vladek Spiegelman, to tell him his life and talk about how he survived Auschwitz in 1945.  One of the first aspects that call our attention is that the protagonists of the story are anthropomorphic mice. In the book, Jews are represented by mice, while Nazis are cats. For the Americans, he chose the dogs, the pigs for the Poles, and the frogs for the French. Even a gypsy moth appears. This selection, obviously, is not made lightly and brings a certain air of fable to the work.  The story takes place at two different times. On the one hand, in the present we have Artie in the United States, asking his father to tell him the story to, precisely, elaborate Maus. The present is the history of history. On the other hand, in the past we have Vladek, in Poland, telling everything he lived from the mid-30s to the end of World War II. The fact that the son is the guiding thread of present history and the father of the past is already significant.

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In the form of counting, we can appreciate there is metafiction in Maus. The references to the work itself are constant, even more so in the second part, in which the author tells us how the first volume of his comic has been received and expresses his reflections and feelings about his creation. We have other examples when Vladek, his father, asks him not to tell personal things in the comic or that he lies, or he tells him that a cartoon-like that is not going to give him money. On one occasion, Artie tells his wife ‘See? In real life, you would not have let me talk so much without interrupting. ‘

During the narration, the son usually stops the father so that he does not make jumps in the story, which gives a false impression of naturalness. The interruptions are frequent, but they are made in such a way that the two times are amalgamated, becoming one and getting the reader not to be bothered by the passage from the present to the past. In Maus, the social groups are portrayed as animals. Jews as mice, Germans as cats, Americans as dogs, Polish as pigs, French as frogs, Swedish as deer, and Gypsies as moths. In fact, the main character Vladek Spiegelman was a Polish Jew who suffered the harshness of the Nazi regime, the story is told through the pen of his son, Art. to show the antithetical character of the relationship between Germans and Jews, Art uses a very simple metaphor: Nazis are cats, Jews are mice. A relation of predation that, in the pages of the book, becomes a perfect simile of the systematic hunting of Jews during the Nazi regime. The Spielman Zoo also includes Polish pigs and American dogs, powerful allegories of how the animal kingdom symbolizes the role of nationalities in war. Also, it emphasizes the detail of the use of mask, with a pig disguised as a cat, or of combinations, like some curious tabby mice, children of Jews and Germans. 

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