20 November 2013
Similar to Krik? Krak!, in Maus II, Spiegelman introduces the theme of transcendence in relation to time. As we frequently observe, memories are inherited by the subsequent generations while also working to bridge gaps between the past and the present. In doing this, the past equally becomes the present—history is preserved within the mind.
In addition, I found it interesting that Maus II is a graphic novel. Aside from Spiegelman’s obvious talent as an illustrator, I think his choice in literary medium is both deliberate and intentional. It calls for a specific form and structure that provides insight to Spiegelman’s purpose as a writer. More specifically, the historical context that which he writes—the Holocaust-- is an extremely sensitive subject matter. It is for this reason that I think Spiegelman chooses to tell his story through pictures: a way to less concretely discuss a rather difficult time in history. Although Spiegelman does provide some text within his novel, he encourages us to rely on the images that he provides us with. These visual representations are in many ways more powerful than words themselves. Perhaps Spiegelman chooses graphics (opposed to words) because he feels that words are unable to convey the entirety and complexity of his subject matter; or maybe just simply the Holocaust is still too difficult to talk about in terms of words. Similarly, I think the graphic style and use of animal imagery contributes to an additional layer in easing Spiegelman’s content, in addition to highlighting a technique of understatement—one that works to actually strengthen the text’s meaning.
Lastly, the most surprising thing I learned during our class this semester was that the individual has the ability to “rename” his or her tattoo—his or her identity. Also, I felt that learning about the origins of tattoo helped me to better understand (and accept) the tattoo culture that exists today.