Literature Study GuidesMausBook 1 Prologue Summary

Maus | Study Guide

Art Spiegelman

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Maus | Book 1, Prologue : My Father Bleeds History (Prologue) | Summary



It's summer 1958, in Rego Park, a neighborhood in Queens, New York. Ten-year-old Artie Spiegelman is roller-skating with his friends. He falls down but they keep skating. Crying, Artie heads home. He tells his father, Vladek Spiegelman, his friends skated off without him. Vladek stops what he's doing and tells Artie that if they were all locked together in a room with no food for a week, "THEN you could see what it is, friends."


Maus is divided into two books, My Father Bleeds History (Book 1) and And Here My Troubles Began (Book 2). Both books bounce between the past and the present as Artie tells his father's story in tandem with the story of his and his father's relationship. This brief glimpse into the early years of their relationship indicates that Vladek isn't very sympathetic to his son's childhood hardships. Vladek knows what real suffering is, and he never lets Artie forget it. It eventually becomes a strain on their relationship.

Maus is a graphic novel, so the images within the book are just as important as the words. Though this is a nonfiction memoir, writer and artist Art Spiegelman takes liberties with the physical features of his characters. With one exception, human faces are never shown in the book. Instead, the characters take the form of anthropomorphized animals, or animals with human traits. Each species is representative of a specific people. Artie and his family are Jewish, so they are drawn as mice. Later in the book, Germans are represented as cats, Poles as pigs, Americans as dogs, Swedes as reindeer, French as frogs, and Gypsies as butterflies.

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