Spiegelman’s Maus gives us a detailed look at the ways Jews were systematically persecuted in German-occupied territories during World War II. Seen as an inferior race, Jews were deprived of the most basic human rights. The Nazi government infiltrated every aspect of their lives, controlling their movements, taking their wealth and property, and sanctioning violence against them. Jews were sent to concentration camps, where they were forced to do hard labor or face the gas chambers. It may seem as if individuals have no power in the face of such persecution, but Maus offers examples of individual resourcefulness that indicate pockets of hope in an otherwise desperate situation.
In Maus, violence dehumanizes both the perpetrators and the victims.
Despite the fact that every aspect of their lives had been destroyed, Vladek and other Jewish characters empower themselves by using their ingenuity to find ways to survive.