Monday, October 13, 2014

Question Commander- Marina Dissinger

Maus, by Art Spiegelman
Pages 5-71
Question Commander
Marina Dissinger

Why were the Germans drawn in the book as cats?

The fact that the Jews are drawn as mice and the Germans are drawn as cats doesn’t come as a surprise. Cats are known to haunt, they are bigger, stronger and eat mice, as mice are known to be small and helpless. Like the cats, the Nazis haunt, torture and kill the helpless Jews symbolizing the obvious "cat and mouse" metaphor that is seen in cartoons, like Tom and Jerry. In cartoons like that, the cat always hunts the mouse. This is what Art Spiegelman tried to show in his comic. The cat is a symbol for superiority and the mouse is inferior.

What themes have you gotten from the book so far?

The themes that I have gotten from the book so far are survival and luck. Firstly, Vladek's experiences in the Holocaust represent a constant struggle to survive, first as his factory and income are taken away, then as the Jews are sent into the ghettos, and ultimately the nightmare of getting to his family. And as the struggle intensifies, the will to survive begins to break the strong bonds of friendship, and a common Jewish identity.
 Vladek is blessed with many skills and qualities - including the ability to speak multiple languages - that provide him with opportunities to  survive within the confines of Auschwitz. Ultimately, however, his survival and the survival of all other Holocaust survivors circle upon luck. On countless occasions throughout Vladek's Holocaust ordeals, his life is spared only by the narrowest of margins: the near-miss bullet at the prisoner-of-war camp in Lublin; not being fought getting into a train home with a pig mask, and more.
Is the book chronological? Why?

The book is not chronological because it is told as a life story. Vladek tells his experiences to his beloved son, Spiegelman. Because of that, the book goes back and forth from happenings, because Vladek explains them and starts other stories. An example  on page 38-40. was telling how his family was going to flee from the Nazis, he drops his pills, and goes off telling a different story of how his eye is glass. Because of that, the story isn’t chronological.


  1. Marina:
    I agree with your first two questions. The cat and the mouse are very clear in your answer and Tom and Jerry is a really good example of this metaphor. The second one about Vladek, I agree that Vladek spoke many languages and that helped him so far. But in the third question I want to contrast. The book is chronological and even though the events are a little bit mixed up the story is clearly going within the time. For example first Vladek told his son how he met Anja and how they got married. Then he told him about the early beginnings of the war and of how the jews started to fear the germans. At last he told him about how he was a war prisoner and about how he escaped successfully.
    Though your questions are really insightful.

  2. Marina,
    While reading this book, I thought of the same question. Although, I also thought of it in a metaphor meaning. I realized that the cat, Germans, wanted to feel bigger and better than the mice, Jews. They want the Jews to be afraid of them, and want them to know that they are the most important people. They have to obey them and accept them. The germans, want to feel powerful and want the jews to feel weak-less, since they don’t accept them because of their religion.

    Before reading your post, I didn't think of luck as one of the themes. I didn't think that luck was the reason he survived, and thats what made him go through all those struggles. Although, I do think of survival as one of them. Survival, and the desperation to survive is what made him threw it. He knew that he needed to survive for his family, and for his business. He needed his family and he was so desperate to see them since he was so scared of death. He was very scared of dying without seeing his family, that he was in such a rush.

    Great post and nice image, Marina!