Maus

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Animal Heads and Masks Symbol Analysis

Animal Heads and Masks Symbol Icon
There are only three reproductions in Maus: the photograph of Artie and Anja in “Prisoner on the Hell Planet”; the portrait of Richieu that appears on the dedication page of the book’s second volume; and the souvenir photograph of Vladek wearing a concentration camp uniform, which he sends Anja to announce his impending return to Sosnowiec after the war. Though his parents and brother are difficult characters for Artie to grasp — he maintains difficult, conflicted relationships with each of them, even after their deaths — his comics offer a way to make sense of their presence in his life, and to develop intimate, emotional connections with them even when true understand continues to elude him. While other relatives must always remain legendary or fictional on the most intimate level, his immediate family becomes “real” to Artie as he studies and shares their story.
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Animal Heads and Masks Symbol Timeline in Maus

The timeline below shows where the symbol Animal Heads and Masks appears in Maus. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue
Grief, Memory, and Love Theme Icon
...friends through Rego Park, their neighborhood in Queens, New York. All three boys have mouse heads on their human bodies, indicating that they are all Jewish. Artie’s skate comes suddenly loose,... (full context)
The Holocaust and the Responsibility of its Survivors Theme Icon
...family’s house, his father, Vladek Spiegelman, works at a wood bench. Vladek also has the head of a mouse, and he speaks in broken English that suggests he is an immigrant.... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 1
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Grief, Memory, and Love Theme Icon
...friends, Mala is a Polish Jew and a survivor of the Holocaust (she has the head of a mouse). She takes Artie’s coat to hang in the closet, and Vladek berates... (full context)
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
...Czestochowa. It is 1935. The crowd on the platform includes Jews, with their characteristic mouse heads, and Polish Christians, who have the heads of pigs. His cousin tells Vladek that she... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 2
The Holocaust and the Responsibility of its Survivors Theme Icon
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Death, Chance, and Human Interdependence Theme Icon
...reads: “This town is Jew Free.” In Artie’s depictions of these abuses, Germans have the heads of cats. One of the Jewish men on the train tells another to pray the... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 3
The Holocaust and the Responsibility of its Survivors Theme Icon
Death, Chance, and Human Interdependence Theme Icon
...conductor, pretending to be ethnically Polish himself – the panel shows Vladek wearing a pig mask over his mouse head – and asking for help sneaking over the border. Poles felt... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 5
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Grief, Memory, and Love Theme Icon
Guilt, Anger, and Redemption Theme Icon
Death, Chance, and Human Interdependence Theme Icon
...“Prisoner on the Hell Planet.” Unlike Maus, the comic depicts human faces rather than animal heads. Harsh lines and exaggerated features make those faces frightening and grotesque, and Artie appears wearing... (full context)
The Holocaust and the Responsibility of its Survivors Theme Icon
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Grief, Memory, and Love Theme Icon
...walked to the local bank. Vladek asks the teller – an American woman, with the head of a dog – to make Artie a key to his safe deposit box. The... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 6
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
...he convinced the train conductor to smuggle him across the border, he wears a pig mask over his mouse head to indicate that he is pretending to be Polish. As he... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 1
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
...how to draw Françoise in his book. On his sketchpad, he tries out different animal heads: a moose, a poodle, a frog, a rabbit. Françoise is French, and he wants to... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 2
The Holocaust and the Responsibility of its Survivors Theme Icon
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Grief, Memory, and Love Theme Icon
Guilt, Anger, and Redemption Theme Icon
Death, Chance, and Human Interdependence Theme Icon
...Artie bent over a drawing table. The panel shows him in profile, and only his head and shoulders are visible. Two flies buzz next to his head. Though he has the... (full context)
The Holocaust and the Responsibility of its Survivors Theme Icon
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Grief, Memory, and Love Theme Icon
...pile of dead bodies. The bodies are naked and emaciated, and each one has the head of a mouse. The silhouette of a guard tower is visible through the window. From... (full context)
The Holocaust and the Responsibility of its Survivors Theme Icon
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Grief, Memory, and Love Theme Icon
Guilt, Anger, and Redemption Theme Icon
A hoard of reporters and camera operators, all wearing animal masks over human faces, climb the pile of dead bodies and surround Artie at his drawing... (full context)
The Holocaust and the Responsibility of its Survivors Theme Icon
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Grief, Memory, and Love Theme Icon
Guilt, Anger, and Redemption Theme Icon
...overrun with rescued dogs and cats. (Artie notes that this fact creates problems for his mask metaphor.)  (full context)
The Holocaust and the Responsibility of its Survivors Theme Icon
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Guilt, Anger, and Redemption Theme Icon
Pavel opens the door in a mouse mask – as with Artie and the reporters, his human head is visible in profile. Artie,... (full context)
The Holocaust and the Responsibility of its Survivors Theme Icon
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
...the military. Two panels, side by side, show the same man with two different animal heads: first a mouse, then a cat. Nobody could say whether this man was really a... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 3
Death, Chance, and Human Interdependence Theme Icon
In Dachau, Vladek meets a French man. (He has the head of a frog.) There are few French people in the camp, and the man has... (full context)