Reading Maus was a completely new and interesting experience for me personally. I had never previously heard of the book so when I opened it for the first time and saw the comic style format, I was surprised. I never actually read through anything that was composed entirely of illustrations and word bubbles. However, I must say that I found it to be a enlightening way to read a story. Any Holocaust books that I have ever read were typically very historical with a lot of facts. Maus offered something entirely opposite, it took the reader along the journey and the visual component contributes greatly. When reading a history book that gives photographs, numbers, and statistics there is no way to put yourself into the shoes of those during that time. Spiegelman solves this problem by providing a very simple solution which is creating a story.
Artie’s narration provides a familiarity because of the way he talks about his dad and pushes him to tell the stories of his time in the camps. He takes us from a more modern time and lets the father take us into the time of the Holocaust. As he describes specific situations like the people he met or how he would purposely wound his hand to be put in the infirmary, it makes everything a bit more easy to understand. Just like anyone who is reading this book, Artie is struggling to understand the suffering that his dad went through. In an effort to bridge that gap between those who did not experience and those who did, Artie takes it upon himself to use pictures as well as ask his father about specific things. His main focus is to learn how Vladek and Anja made it out alive and eventually found each other. However, before this can happen Artie encourages his father to explain all the details. These specific stories allow the reader to travel to that time because now they get a real sense of what it was like and the things people would go through on a daily basis. The visual aspect really adds to this because of the way animals are utilized to represent the people. Clearly dehumanization is an all encompassing way to describe what happened in Auschwitz, so what better way to portray this than by using animals. It really makes you look at the human race in a whole new way and really ask what makes it any different than animals. Today, unfortunately people still perceive those who are different than their own race to be completely separate. Humans are constantly classified by class, gender, race, etc. Spiegelman really takes it a step further by not just describing it, but by illustrating it for everyone to see.
The style of Maus is what makes it unique and stand out among all the other works that we have read in class. Although its format draws attention, it still is doing everything that all the other authors we have read have done. Spigelman is telling a story that is meant to bring you on a journey in an attempt to help the reader better understand. Just as Danticat did this by providing a bunch of stories and CS Lewis by using a fantastical world, Spigelman does the same through his comics. I actually found it to be easier to lose myself because I would look at the pictures and really envision jumping into the page. This book really grabs whoever is reading and makes the transition from reality to the reality on the page an easy one.
The idea of travel has never been something that I ever put much thought into until this class. It was a very literal term that I associated with going on vacation. All of the works we read this semester have opened my eyes to a completely new way to look at the world but also the different methods of traveling. The most interesting point that sticks in my mind is that we are constantly traveling as every minute passes. We are moving through time to the future without even realizing it. So although it may not be physical, it can be mental. This is something that I would have never realized prior to this course. Now that I am going to study abroad in Australia next year, I feel that I have so many new perspectives to take with me. I will definitely leave America with a broader understanding of what it means to really experience travel, not just in the literal sense.