Just the sight of the swastika symbol instantly consumes me with extreme sadness and distress beyond description. It’s a terrifying image which symbolizes the evil and hate of the Nazi regime, led by Adlof Hitler, and the atrocities they inflicted upon those whom they considered inferior, mostly the Jews. Consequently, it’s not an image I care to look at. However, the swastika is an image that we should never forget. According to Fae Myenne Ng, “Remembering the past gives power to the present.” By remembering the tyranny, terror, and genocide committed by the Nazi’s, for which the swastika symbolizes, we are given the power to prevent it from happening again. There is a wealth of information to help us remember this reign of terror, yet it’s easy to ignore, even understandable to want to forget. Still, we can’t forget it if we are to learn from it. Because of narrative work such as Maus, the graphic narrative about a Jewish family that survived the holocaust, we are empowered to remember the past. As one reads Maus, we are forced to face the cruel lessons of history. Though, as a graphic narrative, which is written and drawn much like comics, the reader is not bogged down by text. Instead, the images offer meaning to the words which enables the reader to share in the fear and pain this family experienced. Thereby, allowing us to be visually pulled into the story. Additionally, the reader is persuaded to keep reading about this family, and in the process, to learn more about the plight of the Jews and to remember what happened. Personally, I think any other format for this narrative would be less enticing to most readers, primarily because we would have to fill the words with our own meaning rather than have the images show us their meaning. Gunther Kress, in “Literacy in the New Media Age,” describes it as “the world told is a different world to the world shown.” Maus, through words and images, effectively shows us a world which we cannot relate to and hopefully never will.
Chute, Hilary and Marianne DeKoven. Introduction: Graphic Narrative
Kress, Gunther. Literacy in the New Media Age