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Maus I essay topics

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Follow guidelines outlined in the Module 2 Final Writing Assignment Document. Choose ONE prompt from those listed below.

  1. Spiegelman describes a variety of situations in Maus- some of them involve scenes of love and support, and others are filled with hate, fear and desperation. I want you to think about the various interactions and experiences of those who lived during the difficult circumstances of World War II and the Holocaust. After giving this good thought, write an essay that answers the following question: What did you learn about humanity from reading this book and why?

  1. Maus is written in the rather unconventional form of a graphic novel. Is this format an effective means of telling a Holocaust narrative? How might it differ from a more conventional Holocaust narrative?

  1. To what extent are Vladek's aggravating personality traits a product of his experiences during the Holocaust?

  1. Throughout Maus, Art is consumed with guilt. Discuss these different forms of guilt. How do they relate to one another? How do they differ?

  1. As a librarian faced with the difficult challenge of finding an appropriate location for Maus, would you shelve it with histories, comic books, biographies, fiction, or in some other pre-existing section? Defend your choice.

  1. An old saying has it that, while some wait for good luck, others make their own good luck. Explain how this saying applies to Maus?

  1. What does the use of Metafiction enable Spiegelman to accomplish and communicate in Maus that he would not have been able to do otherwise?

  1. Ironically, writers and illustrators of children’s picture books often use animals as protagonists as a means of avoiding having to choose a race or ethnicity for their characters. It has bee argued that it is easier for humans to sympathize and identify with animals than with human characters. Assuminh this is true, why do you think it is?

  1. Compare Maus with other narratives you might have read that deal with the Holocaust, such as The Diary of Anne Frank or Elie Wiesel’s Night.

  1. Spiegelman portrays all Jews as mice regardless of their countries of origin or their political sympaties. However, all French are shown as frogs, and all Americans are depicted as dogs. What are the implications of this portrayal?

  1. In your opinion, does Art Spiegelman reconstruct the reality of what his father has experienced in the Holocaust? Is he able to understand, visualize, and represent his father’s experience enough so that you can understand such a complex reality?

  1. On page 33, a character says, "There's a pogrom going on in Germany today." The Random House Dictionary defines "pogrom," a word of Russian origin, as "an organized massacre, especially of Jews." Elsewhere it defines "the Holocaust" as "the systematic mass slaughter of European Jews in Nazi concentration camps during World War II." How well do these definitions describe the events through which Vladek Spiegelman lived? Using independent research, describe the difference between a pogrom and the Holocaust. Why are such words—along with others like "victim," "survivor," and "genocide"—considered controversial today?

  1. Maus portrays the Holocaust or a genocide. A genocide is a d eliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group . Do you know of any recent genocides? How are these genocides similar to the Holocaust? How are they different?

  1. To what extent are the father-son struggles we see between Vladek and Art simply universal parent-child struggles? To what extent are they specifically Jewish? And to what extent are they Holocaust-related?

  1. The Holocaust has been mandated in the United States as a part of the history curriculum. Do you agree that it is necessary that we teach this period in history? What elements of the Maus books have you been affected by the most? What have you gained from Art’s telling of his family’s story that will help you to become more informed and better citizens?

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