Maus Themes

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3. Choose one or two themes from the following list and show how Spiegelman conveyed this in Maus: Loneliness; Discrimination; Abuse of Power; Loss of Innocence, Guilt, Survival.

The graphic novel Maus by Art Spiegelman conveys many varied and powerful themes to the reader. Spiegelman has conveyed the themes Guilt and Survival by using various methods including narration, dialogue and several comic book techniques to show the expressions and feelings of the central characters. Guilt is an especially strong theme in Maus, appearing many times with Art and Vladek. Survival is another primary theme in Maus. Images are used by Spiegelman to display the ways that Vladek survived during the Holocaust.

Art’s guilt is shown to his father by using dialogue and different comic techniques. Art also feels guilty for several reasons. He clearly feels guilty over the way he treats his father. He finds it difficult to be around him and continually rejects Vladek’s requests to come and live with him. At the beginning of the narrative he says he hasn’t seen him in a long time, even though they both live in New York. The reason he does start seeing him more regularly is because he wants something from him: his story. One of the most noticeable examples of this situation occurs when Vladek awakens his son early in the morning to ask for help fixing a drain on his roof. Art refuses, later telling his wife, “No Way – I’d rather feel guilty!” A few weeks later, during Art's next visit to his father this guilt is obvious as he instantly asks his father if he needs help with any chores. “Um…do you need any help with those nails or anything” Vladek refuses and tells his son he “can do such jobs easy by himself”. The expression on Spiegelman’s face shows the reader that he feels guilty and worried for his dad. Spiegelman is looking over Vladek’s shoulder and Vladek does not turn around to say hello or anything. From this it can be seen that Vladek is angry at Spiegelman, making...
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