The main themes of Maus include: history, memories and racism.
The overarching plot of Maus does depict the Holocaust and the events preceding the concentration camps and mass genocide. In this case, it felt like an educational but emotional story. It brought life to the hard, disconnected facts that are presented in basic high school level history classes. Because of this, the actual content of this memoir is impactful and gives more insight to the daily lives of Jews during the war.
This theme is something that is very subjective and thus either brings stronger points, or paves way for a hoax. Of course, memories fade over time and one is susceptible to filling in the gaps with things that may or may not have happened, but this is balanced out with how Art Spiegelman jumps back to real time and his interactions with his father.
As well, considering how personal this recollection was for Vladek, it must have been difficult to have to relive everything that happened to him in such great detail. It's understandable that the one telling the story would want certain parts omitted. It does bring to question however, just how both the memories of Vladek of the war, and Art's memories of the various interviews are as candid as they are illustrated, or if there was some fabrication.
Given the history of this graphic memoir is absolutely drenched in racism, there is no surprise that it is such a present theme in the content of these comics. The visual representation of different races as different animals make the difference even more stark than what it was segregated to be. The animals are just a way of describing the discrimination that would otherwise be hard to see in the eyes of our society.
The prevailing racism is seen even while Art is interviewing his father. He worries about how his father may come across as just a 'stereotypical, angry Holocaust survivor' to the readers of this comic. It's a distressing thought, but one that seems all too real when it comes attached with a stigma against this whole race of simply people.
By Kaitlyn Seow