83 pages 2 hours read

Art Spiegelman


Nonfiction | Graphic Novel/Book | Adult | Published in 1986

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Important Quotes

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“Friends? Your friends?… If you lock them together in a room with not food for a week… THEN you could see what it is, friends!” 

(Part 1, Chapter 1 , Page 6)

Vladek admonishes his young son after Art tells him about his friend’s indifference to his accident. This scene at the beginning of Maus demonstrates how Vladek’s experiences of watching people break promises and fight each other for food influence him as a parent. While it is unknown at what age Art learns of his parents’ ordeal, their trauma unconsciously seeps into him.

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“You know, you should be careful speaking English—a ‘stranger’ could understand.” 

(Part 1, Chapter 1 , Page 18)

Vladek reveals his self-taught linguistic skills while courting Anja before the war. His knowledge of Polish, Yiddish, English, and German is an asset to him in wartime as writing letters and teaching English helps him earn extra food and avoid headcounts. This also forms a tragic bookend to the end of Part 1, as he doesn’t consider whether the Polish smugglers can listen in on his Yiddish conversations with Mandelbaum.

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“Here was the first time I saw, with my own eyes, the Swastika. One fellow told us of his cousin what was living in Germany… He had to sell his business to a German and run out from the country without even the money. It was very hard there for the Jews—terrible! Another fellow told us of a relative in Brandenberg—the police came to his house and no one heard again from him. It was many, many such stories—synagogues burned, Jews beaten with no reason, whole towns pushing out all Jews—each story worse than the other.” 

(Part 1, Chapter 2 , Pages 34-35)

Spiegelman introduces the Nazis with a page-dominating panel of his parents’ train passing by a Nazi-controlled town. As they hear horror stories from other passengers, Spiegelman depicts several panels of soldiers humiliating and abducting Jews with the Swastika in the background, ending with a village that has a “This town is Jew free” banner overhead. Since the trip took place just after Richieu’s birth in late 1937, this scene would have happened just before the Kristallnacht pogroms of late 1938, when Nazi-backed rioters destroyed Jewish businesses and institutions.

Related Titles

By Art Spiegelman