Maus tells the story of Art, a Jewish mouse, attempting to create a comic about his father, Vladek, a WWII survivor. There are so many gripping aspects to this story that it is it difficult to know where to begin. The most visually striking aspect is that the true story of Spiegelman’s father is told through Jewish mice, Polish pigs, and German cats. There are times when Vladek is pretending to be Polish to escape the Nazis, and he wears the mask of a pig, highlighting ethnicity as little more than a disguise. There are even moments when the reader sees the author, Spiegelman, drawn wearing a mouse mask.
But far beyond the visual effects, the story itself is equally striking. Vladek’s story shows human ugliness in all forms and the overwhelming strength. The story is not meant to create Vladek as a hero, but rather to show his struggle, and the lifelong effects of that struggle.
While reading both parts of this book, I had to constantly remind myself that this is a true story. The things a person will do to survive, both “good” and “bad” are absolutely extraordinary. A story like this is important, not only to tell the story of those who survived, but also so we never forget the story of those who didn’t.