Ethnic/Religious Heterogeneity is Irrelevant

This might be a rough start for this assignment; a loaded statement with multiple possible interpretations. Don’t worry, I’ll explain:

Art Spiegelman develops a metaphor throughout both parts of Maus, where different animals represent different nationalities/ethnicities (ex. Mice represent Jews, Pigs represent poles, Cats represent Germans, etc.). We discover that this is a deeply engraved metaphor, and not the novel’s objective reality in page 64 of the first book, where Vladek passes off as a Pole by wearing a pig mask in order to board a train and escape to Sosnowiec.

In the illustrations, it is clear that Vladek, a mouse, is wearing a pig mask, and easily manages to convince the Polish trainman (a pig) of his false identity by bonding momentarily through their mutual dislike of Germans. If the book’s objective reality were to be that of different animals representing different nationalities/ethnicities, then the Polish trainman would have easily caught on to the fact Vladek was wearing a mask, which was made very obvious in the illustrations. This being the case, it is safe to assume Spiegelman is trying to communicate a very relevant message through this animal metaphor.

Given that a mouse passed off as a pig, reason tells me Spiegelman is implicitly stating that nationality or ethnicity is a relatively irrelevant way to classify and identify individuals. A well-crafted performance and presentation from a mouse led him to be identified as a pig by an actual pig; in literal terms, nationality is a construct that is irrelevant when assessing the subjective value of a life, as it is a personal variable that is malleable and misinterpretable to a certain extent.

If one were to be placed in a room with 10 individuals of different origins, it’d be nearly impossible to distinguish their nationalities/ethnicities; A Jew can pass off as a Pole, a Nicaraguan as a Guatemalan, a Brit as an Argentinian. In the end, this relates to the overarching idea that no matter where we come from, where we are, and we’ll be, we’re just humans after all.


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