Maus: A Work of Subtle Nuances to Define Truth

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When discussing compelling and highly nuanced literary works, most would not consider a graphic novel capable of delivering any kind of high caliber or highly nuanced level of information. Until recently, graphic novels have been a novelty pastime shared only by children and adolescents. Modern graphic novels like Maus are starting to challenge these notions and dissolve any preconceived thoughts of what literary art must be defined as.

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Maus employs the use of art, white space, and strong layouts to convey the feelings of realism without being too pushy or perverse. Along with literary art, Maus has also pushed the boundaries and our beliefs of what non-fiction encompasses becoming a biographic non-fiction novel through the crafty ability to cope with the tragedy of the holocaust without the overshadowing of a person auto-biographical account of living through tragedy. Maus has set a high bar for expectations and shows this through a complex graphic narrative that details a firsthand account of the holocaust but also the tragedy of being born to a father that has lived through the atrocities. Maus is a non-fiction graphic novel that provides a painfully honest account of family life during the holocaust and uses a graphic medium and storytelling techniques to assist the author in depicting highly complex and sensitive topics in a relatable way.

Maus is a non-fiction, highly complex graphic novel which uses animal imagery and caricatures to assist in the development and portrayal of sensitive, complex and often painfully honest topics including the author, Art Spiegelman’s life. Spiegelman uses animal imagery to categorize the human race into several unconventional stereotypes which, at first glance, might be hard to miss. In Maus one and two, those from Jewish descent were animalized and depicted as human rats. This might seem strange but this antisemitic propagandizing view depicting Jews as rats can be traced back to the 1920’s when the film Der Ewige Jude (The Eternal Jew) which attracted more than 412,300 spectators (Museum) was shown all over Germany. This same sentiment was spotlighted throughout history and can be seen outlined in Defining the Holocaust Encyclopedia: An Encyclopedia dedicated to outlining and historically documenting the Nazi Party program. Further explanation of the use of this imagery can also be seen by Hannah Beckler,

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