Maus Discussion Hamm

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					Maus Discussion, Lynn Hamm
It would be true to agree with Scott McCloud’s argument, regarding comic illustrations, that the
persons lacking detail and individuality could limit the reader in identifying this character as a
specific person.
This is also true in the reading selection of Maus. Throughout the reading, the faces lacked
expression and the full sadness of what was unfolding all around them… definitely iconic. I
often found myself rereading certain selections due to the lack of detail. The words were
detailed but the illustrations made you use your own imagination.
I believe the reasoning behind Spiegelman’s iconic illustrations were to give his readers a sense
of how the Nazis viewed the Jews… no need to salvage their life, and process of elimination as
soon as possible. Hitler DID reduce Jews to vermin. Spiegelman is successful in delivering the
same message through his writings. Through this interpretation, I was able to gain a sense of
understanding as to the amount of suffering, isolation, starvation, and brokenness experienced
by these victims of the Holocaust.
Spiegelman’s comic artwork is filled with extra detail throughout the selection. There are
numerous areas that give the reader opportunity to stay engaged. These extra gaps in the
borders with added writings helped Spiegelman in setting the tone or flow. Although this may
seem “unprofessional” to some readers, it was quite helpful for me in gaining understanding,
especially during each transition from conversation of both Vladek and Artie to the frame
changes of Vladek and Anja and there journeys. He chose mice as symbolism to illustrate how
they are useless, disgusting, rampant and disease caring creatures. This would represent the
Natiz view of the Jews. A horrifically saddened view!
The artwork begins to take change and become detailed when Artie discovers that Vladek has
read his past publication of Prisoner on the Hell Planet (pg. 102-105). This depicts the moment
that Artie is made know of his mother’s suicide… without an answer as to why. The artwork
seems hellish. The frames are blackened. It really does gain the readers attention that this was
a dark moment in the life of a young man.
There are moments throughout that depict a “rough” illustration. My definition of rough would be
visually graphic and illustration point made. The selection pg. 34-35 show the beatings with the
Swastika symbol flashing out to you, pg. 85 involving Vladek’s former business associates being
hung by a noose, pg. 110 being most disturbing as a child is silenced from crying as he is slung
by his legs against a wall by a German Solider.
There is great reason for “bleeding” on pg. 161. This is where Artie’s question of his mother’s
journal has been answered. With the pain of the past, Vladek has told Artie of the burning of this
precious item. (It’s quite ironic as to how he disposes of it… burning it. For this being how most
Jews were “disposed”). The cursing and anger shows on this page with the balloon drawn as
jagged and certain words are bold. This is Spiegelman’s way of delivering the moment and
intensity of the selection. It is interesting to add that defining “bleeds” as a frame that depicts
action and dynamics is also related to the subtitle: “My Father Bleeds History”. I visualize this as
meaning Vladek has always held on to the memories of his survival and this will forever be a
page in his mind with a “jagged drawn balloon”. The panel leading to the last prepares the
reader that Artie is very agitated and anxious to leave from Vladek’s home… “Sure… you bet!
So long”. The last panel shows Artie having no resolution with his father… “MURDERER”. This
panel, being unframed displays just that!
A stereotype is a simplified and/or standardized conception or image with specific meaning,
often held in common by people about another group. A stereotype can be a conventional and
oversimplified conception, opinion, or image, based on the assumption that there are attributes
that members of the other group hold in common. Stereotypes are sometimes formed by a
previous illusory correlation, a false association between two variables that are loosely if at all
correlated. Stereotypes may be positive or negative in tone. An example of a negative
sterotype conception is that all women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are elderly.
Common stereotyping such as all hispanics are illegal, all teenagers are lazy and only poor
people shop at Goodwill are to name a few. As mentioned previously, Spielegman uses
stereotyping from the first page. His character illustrations definitely send a visual stereotyping
of both Jews (mice) and the Germans (pigs). Well done!
When comparing “Tom and Jerry” ( cat always chasing mouse but not very successful in
capturing and manipulating), and the Maus, there is an interesting similarity of the two. Although
the Germans succeed in capturing and manipulating the Jews for only a certain amount of
years, it doesn’t exist today! In regards to Mickey Mouse, I can see the distorted vision and
anger in this statement in the epigraph. Sadly, this vision was associated with human beings. A
theory as to why Vladek compares Artie to Walt Disney may be due to a hint of jealousy and the
success of Walt Disney. He may also see Artie as one on the road to success as well.
Interesting thought!
The reading of pictures is a true art. It allows the reader to draw their own conclusions and add
detail where needed. Everyone’s interpretation will be somewhat different and this is alright.
It’s interesting to note that symbols were mentioned in an earlier paragraph. But the Swatika
was viewed as power to some and weakness to others. In this passage pg. 34, Spielegman
writes “Here was the first time I saw, with my own eyes, the Swatika”. The illustrations show
amazement in the last panel.
Spiegelman does use the satchel numerous times throughout volume 1. This suggests that Artie
had questions and was in the pursuit of answers about life’s journey of both parents. This
interest in history can, if he allows it, help him as well to leave behind the baggage of guilt for
mother’s death and the anger at father’s disposition. The final panel depicted Artie, again, taking
that satchel with him. Lots of symbolism!
Spielegman delivers his point of symbolism through the mask in the text and at the back cover.
Just the thought of mice takes the reader to an unpleasant image. Masks make me think of an
identity trying to be concealed or maybe the person has no clue as to what their identity is…
such as the Holocaust survivors.
Trains signify not only travel but also change. In this selection, trains have a totally different
meaning. From pg. 34, as mentioned earlier, the look of amazement, excitement and
frightfulness from Valdek and his companions was evident. The term “unloaded us” was used to
depict the lack of human value of these Jews pg. 62. During the selection process in the Dienst
Stasium pg. 92, there in the middle of the panel, is a train, ready to transport the Jews on the
LEFT side.
The story being portrayed on pg. 138, without reading, shows bold words, jagged ballooning,
and the symbolic mask being removed briefly by both Valdek and Anja. It does show the fear
and unpredictable nature of their circumstances.

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