Maus Comprehension Questions

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Art Spiegelman's 'Maus' is a compelling and important book that will get your students thinking about some significant issues. This lesson gives you some comprehension questions to assess their understanding and push their thinking.

Why Maus Comprehension Questions?

Are your students reading Art Spiegelman's Maus? For many students, this will be their first experience reading a graphic novel that is not primarily funny. For others, the novel will be their first encounter with material relating to the Holocaust. Maus is a complicated text, dealing with themes like genocide, memory, and what it means to recover from something terrible. At the same time, the form of the text is unusual, combining images with language and using animal cartoons to represent humans. All of these things contribute to the text's importance, but they do not make it a simple read.

Because Maus is so complex, it is important to make sure your students comprehend it as they go. Also, as a teacher, you want to ensure that your students are engaging with the text beyond a superficial level. One way to do this is to ask comprehension questions that encourage them to think deeply and access the novel's complexity. The questions in this lesson can be used as discussion prompts, writing prompts, or assessment prompts for measuring students' understanding of the text.

Maus Comprehension Questions

Questions About Characters

  • Do you consider Art Spiegelman a character in the text? How does it make you feel to think of the author as a character? On the other hand, do you think it is possible to not consider him a character?
  • How would you characterize Vladek as a father? What personality traits stand out the most in him?
  • Why does Anja commit suicide even after surviving the terrors of the Holocaust? How does her life and legacy impact Art?
  • Describe how Mala is similar to and different from Anja. Why do you think Vladek married Mala? What does Art learn from their relationship?
  • How would you characterize Art's relationship to Pavel? Is the relationship a helpful one? Why is or is it not important that Pavel is also a Holocaust survivor?
  • Why does Francoise convert to Judaism? To what extent is her conversion sincere?

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