Course Hero. "Maus Study Guide." Course Hero. 7 Mar. 2017. Web. 15 Nov. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Maus/>.
Course Hero. (2017, March 7). Maus Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved November 15, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Maus/
(Course Hero, 2017)
Course Hero. "Maus Study Guide." March 7, 2017. Accessed November 15, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Maus/.
Course Hero, "Maus Study Guide," March 7, 2017, accessed November 15, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Maus/.
The use of animals to depict different races and nationalities is the most obvious use of symbolism in Maus. In addition to letting Spiegelman avoid drawing the facial features of people he's never seen, this technique also helps the reader understand the power structure and national relationships in place during World War II.
There are two types of photographs in Maus: actual reproductions of family photos and Spiegelman's hand-drawn interpretation of family photos.
The photographs in Book 2, Chapter 4 have great meaning to Vladek, both for who is and who isn't in the pictures. Anja's family photos were kept safe by Janina, the family's former nanny, during the war. The majority of those people died during the Holocaust, including Richieu. "All what is left, it's the photos," Vladek says of the Zylberbergs. The extended Spiegelman clan isn't pictured because "it's nothing left, not even a snapshot." Without photographic evidence of their lives, it is as if Vladek's parents, brothers, and sisters never existed.
Anja was a lifelong diarist, even during the most stressful times of the war. Her journals didn't survive the war, so she started from scratch, documenting her life from the beginning for future generations. Artie desperately wants these journals as he's working on Maus so he can better understand his mother's point of view. They are the closest he will be able to get to talking to his late mother once more, and to Artie they are a symbol of Anja herself. Vladek sees Anja in the journals, too, which is why he burns them. He misses his wife desperately after her death, and seeing the journals brings back too many painful memories. The act of destroying the journals is symbolic of Vladek's attempts to forget the past. It also causes great pain to Artie as part of the acceptance of the entire wartime experience that is forever lost to him, as his mother is in committing suicide without leaving a note.