Author: Art Spiegelman
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1. Apparent Jewish Stereotype
Right in the beginning of this reading section in Maus, it is possible to notice throughout pages 130 to 132 Mala complaining about how little money she gets for her living and that Vladek doesn't want to spend almost anything with her, saying that even though he is very rich he lives like a pauper. This relates to a rather famous stereotype that says Jews are very possessive of their money, are cheapskates, and really like to earn money. This could be because of the fact that being very economic and holding of their money is part of the Jewish traditions to begin with. Another explanation to this prejudgement would be because Jews played a big part in the world's economics before WWII, making the people make such inferences about them, saying they would only spend their money when it was really needed to. Since Vladek endured an entire war of being persecuted, I'd say the money was very short for him at the time, together with essential goods such as food and other things. Therefore, after being put in these terrible conditions, he was able to then learn to give more value to the things he owns. In other words, this could've led him to be this miser person he now is, that doesn't admit wasting money with superfluous and unnecessary things, knowing how much suffering he went through due to the lack of money. An example of such thing would be, I believe, in the start of chapter 2, page 43, where we can see a clear discussion between Artie and Vladek, saying that he should finish everything on his plate before leaving. It isn't a good idea to waste food normally I agree, but I think Vladek was too extreme when forcing Artie to eat everything on his plate when he was a child, having long discussions about it. Honestly, in spite of this sounding a bit funny, I do understand his way of thinking, as his past experiences of starvation made him give more value to food and made him think of how lucky he was to be able to serve good plates of food for his whole family. Last but not least, the Jewish people specialized in the commerce of high value items, yet of small proportions, such as gold, diamonds, and jewelry. This is mostly because the Jewish people were often targets of governments throughout many periods in humanity, so the only thing they could carry to make their living in another place would be high value belongings, such as jewelry. An interesting story of anti-Semitism is that my grandfather's French teacher fled from Egypt because of being Jewish due to a local military revolution that made the Egyptian King, Farouk, lose power, hence expelling all Jews from the country. Something else that could be possibly mentioned was when the catholic kings of Spain also tried to convert or expel the Jews from the country, giving them two options: staying and converting themselves to christians, making them change names, or leave the lands forever. Till this day, the Jews are the ones dominant in the market of jewelry, therefore pointing out the abundance of money many of them can have.
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2. Urbanization of the World After WWII
It is impossible not to notice while reading Maus the many different little cities on Poland that have many habitants. In fact, not many people lived in big cities at all, with most of the population of Europe living in the rural area of the countries. By the 1940s, manual work in the fields was heavily reduced with the industrialization of the harvest of goods, using machines such as trucks and other things to facilitate the process, no longer requiring physical job. Due to this, the unemployment of people living in rural areas were massive, making them move to larger cities in their countries to find another way of living. With the migration of these people to the urban areas, there was a sudden growth in most European countries. In urban areas, taxes were fairly larger than in the fields, making the government receive more money from the people. Due to this, they were able to build many public facilities such as hospitals, schools, and other things, making the urban area a much better option of living than the rural, with many working opportunities and all of common usage places centered all in one area. Withal, the countries production increased greatly, with huge growth of the Gross Domestic Product of the respective countries, making them wealthier and being able to provide a better living for the people.
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3. Nazi Propaganda
In page 149, it is prominent in the graphic novel the act of little kids towards Vladek, a Jew, walking normally in the street. Out of the blue, they start alerting everyone there was a Jew in the area, running around in panic, not knowing what to due, with anger filling their facial expressions. One of the things that most surprised me during Mr. Lippman's talk on the holocaust was the Nazi propaganda used on the people at the time. They first identified the enemy, which in this case are the Jews, dehumanize them, put all the nation against them via propaganda and "brainwash", sending them to ghettos, and finally to concentration camps for execution. However, the thing that most stood out was one particular piece of nazi brainwash shown, that was a simple children's book. It is quite surprising and impressive how this one party was able to absolutely control the population of its country almost entirely to go against the Jews, even wanting to persuade children to hate this people by making them picture them as horrible creatures such as witches and kidnappers. This relates to this passage on the book because it is most likely a reference to such books that were written at the time on "how to identify a Jew", for instance. This truly shows us how easily manipulated children could possibly be, and we could even say the same for the common citizen who trusts his powerful government and whatever they say. In my opinion, we must always be informed about our own governments and what messages they are trying to convey to the people in order to truly have an opinion on what they have to offer and for this not to be repeated again, showing truly how ignorant and naive the population at the time was or maybe even how scared they were to react to such an absurdity.