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According to “The World Holocaust Remembrance Center”, over six million Jews were killed by the Nazis at concentration camps during the Holocaust, between 1941 and 1945. After looking at Night by Elie Wiesel and Maus by Art Spiegelman, it is evident to say that both of these texts reveal experiences of the survivors to make the reader understand the conditions that they faced at the concentration camps. Furthermore the authors urge the reader to understand how prejudice and fanaticism for certain political differences may lead to repeat atrocities.
It is significant to further examine these biographies, since the reader can see the significance that these events have on a person, not only in the moments, however in the further future. This is a topic that is worth further understanding as it is something that politically can reoccur. Both of the authors explicitly evaluate the difficulties that they face and the trauma that has left them mourning. Moreover, it provides the reader with a lot of information of how family and religion become the most significant aspects of will to live.
One major difference that sets the two texts apart is the way that they are presented. Night is a personal memoir of Wiesel’s experiences at several different concentration camps. Wiesel uses vivid imagery to provide the reader with evidence of all the difficulties, and the suffering that he and his fellow Jews went through. In addition, Elie Wiesel explains the traumatizing experiences he had to go through as a young teenager to fight for his religion. Moreover, we are able to see how a young boy copes with losing his whole family and everything he had within just a few years. The vivid imagery throughout makes the biography highly pragmatic and makes the reader understand the suffering that the Jewish people faced. Whereas, Maus is a graphic novel that tells the story, and the experience of the authors father by presenting how his Holocaust experience has affected him in later years. Furthermore, Spiegelman decided to use mice to represent the Jews, frogs to represent the French Jews and cats to represent the Germans, as well as the Kapos, which were prisoners of concentration camps who were assigned to supervise other Jewish prisoners. He wanted a melodramatic pulp illustration for his novel hence, the use of the cat-mouse metaphor with the use of opposition.
Moreover, an interview showed that his inspiration of representing people as animals, came from a German Documentary called The Eternal Jews. In the documentary, Jews were in ghettos swarmed in tight quarters like mice. In additions to this, there were quotes used such as “Jews are rats” or “Jews are the vermin of mankind”. Furthermore, since Zyklon B was what the Nazis used in the gas chambers, also helped lead to this decision. This is due to the fact that Zyklon B is a pesticide manufactured to kill vermin. Considering that vermin are wild animals that are believed to be harmful and carry diseases, Spiegelman uses zoomorphism through referring to Jews as being no more than filthy rats, when compared to the furious German cats. Additionally, further research aided Spiegelman to realize the dehumanization of Jews, as which was the heart of the killing project. His intention was for the reader to stop and understand what was happening in each cartoon and the reason. In the interview, he further explains that certain facial expressions represented different emotions. Moreover, he portrayed the desperation of the Jewish through screams, facial expression and body language.
When humans are stripped of everything that they have, they become dehumanized and the things that are important to them are little to none. After looking at the two texts Night by Elie Wiesel and Maus by Art Spiegelman, we get a vivid insight from the way the authors express humanity through family and religion in a dehumanising environment caused by war. Within both of these texts, hope through religion and family values, are used as a coping mechanism. Even though privilege sets the survivors apart, the writers urge the reader to understand that family and religion are key when put in such conditions since, they are the reason that one might find the will to continue living, people have something to fight for other than just themselves.
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