«Art Spiegelman's Maus» - Free Essay Paper

Art Spiegelman's Maus

Maus and Barefoot Gen are examples of two salient works surrounding horribly traumatic events. Additionally, they demonstrate the most basic levels of human endurance and the eventual effects of such trauma on the world. Often comics are associated with the Sunday funnies or superheroes (Solomon, 2011). Flashy graphics are expected, whilst dialogue is mainly simplistic. The reader experiences a transformation from the reality into the fantasy world full of heroes, action, beautiful women, or cartoon animals. However, in Maus and Barefoot Gen, holocaust emerges as a main theme. This essay explores the differences and similarities between the Maus and Barefoot Gen.

Maus and Barefoot Gen

As a story about the Holocaust in the comic structure, Art Spiegelman's Maus fulfills apparently unimaginable. Maus recounts the story of Spiegelman's father, Vladek, and his experience as a Polish Jew amid the Holocaust (Spiegelman, 1991). Running parallel to this story is the work of Spiegelman's based on the communications with his father as he visits him on various occasions to record his memories. The majority of characters are spoken to as creatures. Jews are compared to mice, while Germans are seen as felines, while the Americans are said to be puppies. Inside this apparently oversimplified system, Maus faces the frightening reality of the Holocaust, the systemic massacring of millions of Jews by the Nazi administration throughout the World War II.

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On the other hand, Barefoot Gen is an anecdote about Gen and his family crew. Gen is a typical Japanese kid, who is carrying on with his ordinary life. His mother and father love him. Additionally, his sibling loves him, and he fights as an ordinary kin does. Suddenly, Gen's reality changes, when Hiroshima, the city he exists in, is bombarded by the United States. In the gunfire, both Gen's father and his sibling are killed, alongside his relatives. However, he survives the bombardment with his mother (Solomon, 2011). Life then turns into a struggle for sustenance. Not long after the shooting, Gen's mother conceives a child. Presently, Gen needs to find sustenance for both his mother and her newborn child. He comes across a kid, who reminds them of his younger dead sibling. The kid is a vagrant, and Gen and his mother wind up embracing him. Eventually, the child bites the dust from poor health. The arrangement closes with the growth of plants, demonstrating that life continues and that the individuals will survive.

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Similar themes are evident in both books. For instance, power features as a theme in Maus. Spiegelman provides an elaborate perspective on how the Jews were being persecuted in a systemic manner by the Germans on the territories they occupied during the Second World War (Spiegelman, 1991). In this regard, Jews were denied their most basic rights. On the other hand, Barefoot Gen is also a story about power, as the name of the comic book suggests.
Survival emerges as an additional theme in both comic books. In the Barefoot Gen, a young boy encounters difficulty in finding shelter and food after his country is bombed and many of his kinsmen killed. Moreover, deciding on whether to befriend or trust others is daunting.

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Additionally, both comic books are about the World War II, albeit in different parts of the world. For instance, Maus presents the war from the eyes of the Jewish survivor, while Barefoot Gen is a perspective from the eyes of the Japanese survivor (Solomon, 2011).


The presence of conflict is evident in both works. Notably, Maus presents a conflict that involves people from different race,s while Barefoot Gen concerns aggravation between countries. In Maus, Jews were targeted, and the tragedy that befell them was named Holocaust. In Barefoot Gen, countries fought against each other and formed allies, which pitted them against each other. A similarity is evident in both conflicts, as they involved the loss of lives. Another similarity concerns the fact that the cultural diversity was evident in both conflicts.

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Both stories have a similarity in their plot developments, even though they have employed different styles to achieve their goals. For instance, Barefoot Gen utilizes comics to depict what has been discussed in the book. Comics facilitate comprehension of the real facts. Maus utilizes different types of fonts in order to assist a reader to comprehend the work easily. Notably, the Holocaust narrative is written in the normal font, while the other stories are presented in italics. Another similarity stems from the fact that both works employ different stories - both from the past and present - in order to achieve their plots.


Art Spiegelman was majorly efficacious in passing his message, albeit the medium lacked serious attention. Several similarities and differences found in the two works were explored. For instance, both comic books unveil similar themes, such as survival, power, and war. A similarity in conflicts emerges from the fact that both books concern mass killings. However, a difference persists, because Holocaust involved war and racial prejudice, while World War II focused on the aggravation between countries. Arguably, Art’s graceful and homely comics are without nuance, but they achieve the author’s goal at the end of the day.

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