My classmates and I, or rather, the entire 8th grade at my school, is reading and working on assignments related to Maus I and II, both by Art Spiegelman, for the rest of this school year.
The following questions are about Maus I:
Chapter 1 – This is a graphic memoir. A graphic memoir tells a person’s life through text and drawings. Why does Art Spiegelman use mice instead of people to portray the characters in the story? What do the mice represent?
Answer: The author probably wanted to use allegory to compare the relationship of mice and cats to the relationship between Jews and Nazis in Germany during World War II. The mice were the Jews, and the Nazis were cats.
Chapter 2 – Why does Ms. Stefanska go to jail? What role did Anja play in Ms. Stefanska’s going to jail?
Answer: Ms. Stefanska went to jail because the police found a package in her shop that contained communist papers. At the time, communists were despised. Anja had meant for Ms. Stefanska to hold onto it so she wouldn’t get in trouble, but the police found it in her shop, so she got arrested as a consequence.
Chapter 3 – What does Vladek mean on page 50, when he says, “Well at least I did something.” Do you believe that he is justified in feeling this way? Explain.
Answer: Vladek meant that even though he accidentally killed someone that isn’t the enemy, he helped by finding the body. I believe Vladek is justified for feeling this way, because he basically cleaned his own mess. That’s something at least.
Chapter 4 – Although Jews were allowed only limited rations under the Nazi occupation, Vladek manages to circumvent these restrictions for a while. What methods does he use to support himself and his family?
Answer: He goes to shops that still owed him money from before the war. He bribes his father-in-law’s friend’s overseer(the friend owns a tin shop) to work there. Vladek tries to protect Richieu by giving him to some people to hide. He owned a grocery, a black market business, and traded gold and jewelry.
Chapter 5 – How did Vladek care for Anja after the destruction of the Srodula ghetto? Contrast his behavior toward his first wife, during the worst years of the war, with the way he now treats Mala?
Answer: Vladek was sensitive and caring. He told her that he needed her, and they would struggle to survive together. He was supportive, caring, and kind to her. He also loved her. In contrast, he doesn’t like Mala. He thinks she only wants his money, so he treats her badly. Both of them argue with each other often. Mala doesn’t like him because of his lack of concern, he makes her feel inferior to Anja, and acts miserly.
Chapter 6 – Why does Artie call his father a murderer? Is he justified? Who else has he called a murderer, and why?
Art calls his father a murderer because he burned Anja’s diaries and memories sometime after she died. Vladek wanted to forget what happened to him and Anja, and he claimed “These papers had too many memories.” So he burned them. That’s why Art is justified. It had Anja’s memories. His mother’s personality as viewed by herself won’t be known to Art because of what Vladek did. He basically “murdered” anything left of her. Art called his mother a murderer because she held him tightly. Though he blamed himself for her death afterwards.
The assignment for Maus II:
Part 2 – Write an overall impression of what Vladek went through in Auschwitz and how it changed him. How has it affected Artie and Francoise?
In Auschwitz, it was a really tough time. When Art went to a counseling session with his counselor, he asked the counselor, who was also a survivor of Auschwitz, what it felt like being there. The counselor scared him by suddenly saying, “BOO!”. He then said Auschwitz felt like that from start to beginning, and that Vladek didn’t survive because of his resourcefulness. It was all random. That was reality in Auschwitz. It is basically a camp made to finish off the prisoners, but slowly. People were underfed, beaten by the Nazis, overworked, and malnourished. People barely got fitting clothes(Vladek was a lucky one), and eventually gassed to death or killed if they were too bony and weak to work. Since Vladek spoke Polish and English, had shoe-repairing skills, and had experience being a tinman, Vladek was a little better off than most people because of his usefulness. His skill as a tinman allowed him to be excluded from the bunch of people killed at once in gas chambers near the end of his time at Auschwitz. It caused Vladek to not be wasteful about anything. That’s why he doesn’t like spending money and buying things. It annoys Art greatly, but Francoise seems to have more tolerance of it.