Discussion Questions for Maus, Nov. 16

 

1. Why is Vladek so concerned with money? Why does he save everything? Why does he insist on fixing the roof himself? Why is he so suspicious of his second wife, Mala? How do all of these personality traits stem from his experiences in the Holocaust?

 

2. Why do you think Art Spiegelman draws the characters of his book as mice, cats, pigs, etc? Do you think this, and the cartoon format in general, is an effective way of dealing with the subject matter? Why or why not?

 

3. At the end of Book I, Art calls his father a "murderer" for destroying his mother's diaries after her suicide. What deos he mean by that? Why is it so important for Art to find out about Auschwitz and why does his father take a different approach?

 

4. What difficulties did Art have growing up as the child of Holocaust survivors (see his discussions with Francoise near the beginning of Book II)? Why did he have problems trying to be a normal kid? As an adult, why does he have a hard time coming to terms with his success as a cartoonist and the author of the widely acclaimed Maus?

 

5. When they are returning from the Catskills near the end of the story, Art gets very mad when his father takes a racist attitude toward an African American hitchkiker. How does this incident illustrate the different meaning the Holocaust holds for Art and for his father?