Images of Auschwitz

What I found most interesting about this first section of Maus II was Vladek’s experiences in Auschwitz/Birkenau/Dachau, and how Art chose to represent them visually. Young Spiegelman struggles with this himself, unsure of how to draw such horrendous events that he’s never actually witnessed. Personally, seeing such gut-wrenching images as the sick and dying mice made me shudder at the thought that this actually happened to people—and even crazier, that they managed to lived through it. Maybe I was the only one who did a few Google searches to look up images of the real Auschwitz and the horrors that happened there? I found some pictures of the Kremas and those haunting Auschwitz gates. Even looking at real photographs, it is still hard to imagine that these tragedies happened. I think it’s actually a testament to Spiegelman’s project—I don’t think he misrepresented anything that happened there, because it can’t be represented at all. Even photographs don’t seem to do it justice, and I think that even if a real survivor illustrated Maus, I still wouldn’t understand what seeing those things in real life was actually like.

Also, the more I read Maus, the more I really appreciate Art Spiegelman’s storytelling. Everyone seems to be focusing a lot on the visual representation (myself included, no doubt) but I’ve been thinking about the incredible job Spiegelman does in capturing his father’s voice and dialogue. Everything seems so natural, and the reader is able to catch on to the subtle nuances, like when Art is being sarcastic toward his father or when he’s being inconsiderate or too persistent in pushing Vladek to continue narrating the story. As much as seeing the images on the paper really helped me visualize the story, I felt even more immersed in Art’s narrative pieces—it’s so easy to “hear” the characters speaking in my head, and I think that really sets Maus apart from some of the other books we’ve read in this class (particularly the ones without any words—obviously).

2 thoughts on “Images of Auschwitz”

  1. I agree—aside from the images and already-gripping subject matter, the storytelling technique in Maus is masterful. Think about all the ways we make stories compelling—humor, flashbacks, incorporating other voices—and they’re all in Maus, along with many other techniques. It’s a topic worth discussing in-depth in class.

  2. Vladek’s continued use of the words “finish” end “end” as synonyms for death and died was particularly haunting for me. Also, the denouement at the end of Maus II is heartbreaking. Superb writing, especially considering it’s transcribed from actual words.

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