Maus Discussion Questions

Instructor: Shanna Fox

Shanna has been an educator for 20 years and earned her Master of Education degree in 2017. She enjoys using her experience to provide engaging resources for other teachers.

Maus is Art Spiegelman's memoir-style story of his parents' experience in the Holocaust. Use these discussion questions to help your high school students sift through the illustrations and text of this allegorical tale.

Maus by Art Spiegelman

In Maus, Spiegelman builds a fascinating metaphorical world, replete with animal representations of Holocaust perpetrators, helpers, victims, and survivors. The decision to present this story in the unique form of a graphic novel is an intriguing approach. Sifting through the symbolism of the story may be a challenge for your high school students. These discussion questions will help you guide them as they navigate the history, characters, form, and genre of this seminal work. You may want to use these questions in a whole-class forum or provide a list to teams of students. Additionally, conducting a written summative assessment in which students respond to one or more questions can be quite effective.

Questions about Historical Context

  • What facts about the Holocaust are brought to light as the events in this book unfold? Use specific examples.
  • How does Spiegelman communicate emotion through both words and illustrations? Find details in the text to support your points.
  • How do the events of the Holocaust affect Anja's mental health? Do you think she would have struggled emotionally even if she had not undergone such tragedy?
  • How is the impact of the Holocaust shown throughout the book? Be specific in your answers.
  • Do you think that retelling his parents' story in this way is cathartic for the author? Why or why not?
  • Do you feel connected to the events of the Holocaust when you read this book? What provides this connection? Is there another way that would allow for a stronger connection?

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