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Work Will Set You Free

Page history last edited by Sue Muecke 10 years ago


"This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen" by Tadeusz Borowski and Maus by Art Spiegelman both examine the Holocaust using a combination of personal narrative and fiction.  But despite their shared themes and purposes, these authors utilize different media (short story vs. graphic novel) and rhetoric.


In a 250+ word response, compare and contrast the rhetoric of Borowski and Spiegelman.  What rhetorical techniques and strategies do the authors employ?  What do you think are the unique strengths and weaknesses of each medium?  How do these strengths and weaknesses help or hamper the work's message?  Do you find one work more compelling than the other?  If so, why?


Post your response as a comment below.  Responses should be posted by 5:00pm on Sunday, September 19.

Comments (24)

Alex said

at 6:55 pm on Sep 18, 2010

There are many strength’s and weaknesses to both of these readings. Personally, Maus was much more fulfilling and informative at the same time. I felt as though I personally knew Vladek and Art Spiegelman, as if he had told the story straight to me. As we mentioned in class, but didn’t really get to talk about, I enjoyed the use of Vladek’s strong-accented dialogue. It helped me connect with the character and made it that much more real. The use of animals as humans though, not so much. “This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen” was definitely very powerful, but some of the imagery was too horrific for me. It seemed as though the author was looking for sympathy and to gross out the reader, rather than tell a tale.

Alex said

at 6:55 pm on Sep 18, 2010

I’d say audience-wise, Maus was looking to interest people with his personal experience and a love story, therefore attracting a much larger span of readers. You can’t compare such a moving graphic novel with a short story like “This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen” in my opinion. If your looking for a short, drastically explicit outlook on the holocaust, the Tadeusz Borowski story is for you. You can also tell the much higher level of writing, coming from Art Spiegelman’s end. I felt as though the Tadeusz Borowski piece was written by a high school student on his free time. It didn’t flow well, and the grammar was garbage. All in all, both were intense holocaust stories, but “This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen” is elementary compared to Art Spiegelman’s Maus.

Nicolette Horsley said

at 8:09 pm on Sep 18, 2010

I feel that there are a few strengths and weaknesses with both the story by Spiegelman and the story by Borowski. Spiegelman has a personal connection to the Holocaust through his father whom actually was sent there. I believe Maus was more heart felt and compelling. Borowski didn’t seem to have an emotional connection to the Holocaust but he definitely knew his facts. I find Maus more compelling though because when he told his story I amost felt as if I was there, I had an emotional connection. With this way for gas ladies and gentlemen, I kind of felt horrified, it ws brutally honest, yet it didn’t really touch me at all. It seemed as if Borowski was trying to state exactly what happened and to give the readers facts, but he didn’t give the readers any emotion, or anything to connect to. With Maus I and II I felt I could relate to some of the things that the victims went through. I felt like I learned a few things from Borowski, but other than that the story did nothing for me. Maus was overall a better story for me to read. They both show different perspectives of the Holocaust and what people went through while they were there. The authors both took differnet approaches though. Maus had a personal connection and This way for gas ladies and gentleman took an approach using both facts and brutal detail. Both storys were very interstion to read and give different perspectives of the Holocaust so I do recommend reading both of them.

Keiona Harris said

at 9:33 pm on Sep 18, 2010

Both “Maus” and “This Way to the Gas, Ladies and Gentleman” had strengths and weaknesses. I personally liked “Maus” more because I had a better understanding of the pain and struggle that Vladek and the other Jews went through. Art Spiegelman allowed his audience to see and feel like they were there with Vladek and experience what he experienced. Tadeusz Borowski only gave me a sense of the severe pain the Jews went through while on the train. Borowski story was mostly based on the holocaust at the train station but he didn’t mention the agony at the concentraton camps. Unlike Spiegelman who gave more detail about the holocaust as far as locations, abuse, food, and personal interactions. Both Spiegelman and Borowski’s stories sparked my emotions because they described the pain the Jews went through and how they were mistreated and abused. Borowski seemed to go into great detail about how the bodies were tossed about as if it weren’t human flesh, and how children were killed on the spot for crying for help.

Keiona Harris said

at 9:34 pm on Sep 18, 2010

“Maus” allows its audience to be interested in the holocaust and may actually want to know more because of how the story was written, but “This Way to the Gas, Ladies and Gentleman” came on very strong, and although it’s a serious topic, I prefer it lightened up a bit like “Maus”. Spiegelman’s story was written in an entertaining and informational way, while Borowski’s story had a very intense and informational story line, which is probably why it wasn’t as easy to read his story.

Sean Kozara said

at 9:52 pm on Sep 18, 2010

Both “Maus” by Art Spiegelman and “This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen” by Tadeusz Borowski are both effective pieces that examine the Holocaust. “Maus” is a graphic novel while “This Way for the Gas” is a short story. Both pieces have their own unique strengths and weaknesses. Maus, I thought was well written and very effective. The intended audience was a general audience, anyone who is interested in or by the Holocaust. Also, Maus had very effective imagery, as it was a graphic novel. In “This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen” Borowski’s approach was different. He wrote a short story instead of a graphic novel. Borowski’s use of vivid imagery and diction helped the reader see the horridness of the Holocaust. The intended audience in this piece I felt was a general audience as it was in Spiegelman’s Maus. I also noticed a large use of simile and metaphor. Repetition was used in parts of this story to further capture the reader’s attention and to focus the reader on specific details. For example, heavily in the beginning and dispersed throughout the novel “naked” and “heat” are used.
The only weakness of Maus I can think of is it may have took the Holocaust in a “light” manner with the use of animals for characters, but this was also a strength of the novel. A weakness of Borowski’s piece was it only focused on one aspect of the Holocaust, the transports of Jews into the concentration camps. I would say I liked Maus better overall even though I liked parts of This Way for the Gas. I liked that Maus was a graphic novel and the story was interesting to read. I felt more emotionally connected while I read Maus as well.

Adrianna Jones said

at 5:53 am on Sep 19, 2010

Both Maus and This Way for Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen drastically relate to the holocaust. Personally I believe Maus was a better reading. As a reader I felt more informed and aware as to the frame of the story versus This Way for Gas. One of Art Spigelman's strenghts was his use of rhetoric. He appeals to audience using ethos often for example through his pictures. This way it not only allows the audience to have a sense of imagination but allows the audience to connect with the charcters and there mood therfore determining the audience's. I felt as though Art wanted to pose a question (What you define a survive as?) rather than inform about a circumstance. The style of this graphic novel was much more informal rather than formal which I believe adds to the personality of the main characters-Valdek,Ajna,Artie etc. In This way for gas the style was completely opposite. Right from the start Tadeusz Borowski jumps right into the story. It leaves the reader wondering and a bit less interesting, in my opinon at least. I felt as though Borowski goal was to tell and inform his audience about the horros of the holocaust which he exactly did. I did not care much about this reading simply because there was not anything distinctive about it. I felt more connected to maus.

Ciara Sweeney said

at 9:56 am on Sep 19, 2010

Maus” by Art Spiegelman and “This way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentleman” by Tadeusz Borowski are about the terrible event about the holocaust. “This way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentleman” goes more into depth about the event and terror, which I didn’t really like because as the story goes on the readers have to imagine what was going on. Maus was like comic book had pictures to help the reader understand the story he is trying to tell. Maus unlike This way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentleman used animals to tell the story but Tadeusz Borowski used people. I felt like this way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentleman just jump straight into the story, telling the horror first before giving the reader a chance to prepared for it or even give some type of background. Maus gives you some type of background and also gives you visual aid so you can understand his point of view of things. I liked Maus better the “This way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentleman” because I understood the reading more and how he has a different approach to tell a story about the holocaust. Tadeusz should tone down just a little because some readers might not like how in his story is.

George Formicola said

at 10:37 am on Sep 19, 2010

In both “Maus” and “This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentelemen”, the intended audience is generally all people. Both Speigelman and Borowski are trying to tell a story of what happened during the Holocaust. As I read “This Way for the Gas”, I felt bad for the people in the story, but I did not feel as sorry for them as I did for the people in “Maus”. This does not mean that the people in Borowski’s story did not go through any sort of horrible events; I simply feel that he could have worded the story better if he wanted to grab reader’s emotions. On the other hand, “Maus” was very heart-wrenching in many ways. Spiegelman had more of a personal touch because he told the story of what his parents/family went through during the Holocaust, and the effects it had on his family after. Also, the use of graphics in “Maus” assisted in the emotional aspect of the story. One positive area in Borowski’s work was that he actually used German words in the dialogue. Spiegelman did not do that, and that took away some of the German effect in his story. I found “Maus” much more compelling than “This Way for the Gas” because it read more as actual events that happened to people as opposed to just putting facts on paper and saying this is what happened to people during the Holocaust. All in all, both works were very well written and put together, and did a good job giving even more insight to what occurred during such a dark time in history.

Melinda Klakulak said

at 12:38 pm on Sep 19, 2010

There are many things that make up a good story, one of them include getting the readers attention, which I felt Maus, by Spiegelman did a better job of. Maus was based on a true story and had a more emotional connection with the reader. It grabbed my attention in the beginning of the graphic novel and kept it throughout the book. I felt the back that it was base on a true story also kept me interested in it because I was always looking to know what happened next. This Way for the gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, by Borowski, was more facts than it was a story. Borowski did know what he was talking about and was very knowledgeable with facts regarding the Holocaust, as was Spiegelman.
To me the story Maus was a more compelling because of the fact that I enjoyed reading Maus more. I felt that to read a story about someone who actually lived through the Holocaust was a better read than to just read facts about it. Maus’s pictures were also a key fact as to why I liked the novel where This way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen was not a graphic novel. I felt that the pictures added life to the novel. One thing I did like about Borowski’s writing is that he was writing on a topic he knew a lot about. He established credibility right away and let the readers know that he knew inside and out the topic he was writing about.

Ashley Tannahill said

at 1:00 pm on Sep 19, 2010

Both “Maus” by Art Spiegelman and “This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen” by Tadeusz Borowski were effective readings which main purpose was to retell events from the Holocaust. Spiegelman portrayed his story within a graphic novel while Borowski wrote a short story. Although the audience, which is the general public, and the purpose were equal in both stories, I consider Maus a more informative, and altogether a more interesting piece. Both authors are credible sources and are able to connect with readers on an emotional level due to the extreme of the purpose in these stories, but Spiegelman’s use of imagery made Maus feel more real and made readers much more aware of the experiences being told. With that said, This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen was an informative piece as well, and I especially enjoy the use of multilingual dialogue and how the story was represented from more of a wall flower point of view, while the narrator doesn’t just describe his own actions but also gives a large amount of detail about his surroundings. Although This Way to the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen was an emotional story, it was the lack of background information that led to the inability to connect as strongly with Borowski compared to the more personal Maus. Another difference between the stories was that Borowski mostly told one intense horrifying scene after another. In Maus, Spiegelman made the effort to guide the story in a few positive directions through out the book, which didn’t take away from the effectiveness, but made the story a little less painful to read.

Nick Stilson said

at 1:58 pm on Sep 19, 2010

Spiegelman's graphic novel compared to Borowski's short story is very different in terms of writing style obviously, however, different can be good and I think the way Borowski made you imagine in your own way what was going on was a nice change from Maus. In Maus I felt that my imagination could only go so far due to the short writings and Spiegelman made it clear in his pictures what he wanted the reader to see and imagine. The one thing that both the authors shared undoubtedly is the fact that they both shared the same theme, that theme of course being the Holocaust and the experiences of other people that had to go through the horrors and what some may even call unfortunate trials. Borowski also had a much more serious idea in his head when writing his short story, the pacing of the story just seems a little more like you're expecting the worst to happen as opposed to Maus where you already know that the main character got out of his situation alive and that feeling of anxiousness wasn't really there for me when I read Maus because of that. Maus did have something that I really liked though and that is the fact that it all meshed well together and seemed well written as opposed to Borowski's short story where the main goal just seems to do that, tell a short story. The only time I felt the grammar was really on par with Maus was when Borowski had to describe the surroundings, I didn't really like how the conversations were set up. Despite these differences I have to say that both authors knew what they wanted out of their writings and both stories ended up coming out well. Though if I had to recommend one of them to a friend than I would definitely tell them to read Maus.

Megan Markwardt said

at 2:00 pm on Sep 19, 2010

The two stories of the Holocaust, Maus by Art Spielgelman and This way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Tadeusz Borowski are both similar and different in several ways. Borowski’s story differs from that of Spielgelman’s because the story is told in a much more descriptive way. Borowski uses metaphors making the story easier to understand what it was like to be in that situation. Although, Spielgelman gives background information about the characters unlike Borowski. This helps give you more of a personal connection with the story and the characters in it. Because Borowski does not give background information, it makes you wonder what the real purpose or argument in writing this story is. Borowski’s story was only a short part of what someone would go through living in a concentration camp, but Spielgelman’s story was the whole thing starting before the Holocaust and continuing after. Even though Maus was longer, Borowski’s story was more descriptive so they both portrayed the Holocaust in a great way. The fact that they were two different medias did not affect the way I read the stories, when I read Maus; I didn’t really look at the pictures. Writing with pictures did not help me understand the story more, but it did help in creating a picture in my head. I do not find one work more compelling than the other because although they have strengths in different areas they both give you an up close view of what it was like to go through the Holocaust.

Dennis Nosis said

at 3:13 pm on Sep 19, 2010

Maus and "This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen" are both good stories when it comes to the Holocaust, even though they give different points of views. Reading them together helps you understand the Holocaust that much better since you get two sides of the story. They, although good, are still different, one having a stronger argument and impact than the other. Maus, I believe, had a greater impact, since it had pictures and came from the point of view of a Jewish person, the people who were terrorized the most. Some people, though, might not take the book seriously since it has pictures, therefore obstructing their overall opinion on the book, sadly. If you did not judge the book because it was a graphic novel, though, I believe that the pictures are the greatest help in understanding what really happened, since people’s imaginations tend to unconsciously censor or downgrade things they hear or listen to. "This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen" still had a good impact, though. It showed the point of view of a Polish person, people who were brought to camps, but still treated much better than the Jews. Its cynicism and aloof atmosphere made a big impact if you compare it to a Holocaust story of a Jewish person, since it is much less suspenseful and more relaxed. The people in the story also took the death of their Jewish camp-mates very lightly, sometimes wishing it upon them if they found it annoying. If this is the first Holocaust story you have ever read, it does not have much impact, especially since a very good portion of the story was dialogue and the scenery was not explained much at all. The lack of detail was a big downside of the story. If anything, the point of this story was to serve as a way to see the more fortunate people’s lack of extreme hardships and compare it to the torture and horrific scenarios of the Jews.

Andrew Cox said

at 3:59 pm on Sep 19, 2010

In both stories they used their own separate ways to express the effects of the holocausts. The audience of the stories is the general public who know about the holocaust. I really liked the personal feeling with Maus because Speigelman used information and happenings from his family. Maus has the information and facts that kept you realizing how hard they had it, the “This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen” by Borowski was not as flashy with the words that were used to try and explain the hardships of the holocaust. No matter what story or anything everyone that had suffered in the holocaust suffered the same amount. Maus had all three ethos, pathos, and logos in it and the Borowski one used them as well but maus was presented a lot better because of the fact that he had actually information for the most part. I really liked Maus the This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen was less informative and rather a dull story of the holocaust. It reminded me more of what I have heard before rather than new information like Maus presented, it just is really interesting because he as real life situations and happenings that help catch the attention of people because they haven’t heard stories that in-depth before. I am not saying that Borowski’s wasn’t true and that the things he mentioned weren’t as bad as what was mentioned in maus its just that he really didn’t support it with as much information from real life as in maus.

Bradley Clark said

at 4:15 pm on Sep 19, 2010

When comparing “This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen” by Tadeusz Borowski and The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman, I will first discuss what they had in common. Borowski and Spiegelman both had fiction woven into a non-fiction historical event. However, I feel that Spiegelman did it far more effectively than Borowski. Even when isolating the text within The Complete Maus, there was a richness and sense of character development that was virtually absent in Borowski’s short story. I had little sympathy for any of the characters in “This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen” because I really didn’t care for them, whereas I wanted to see Vladek survive and shared in his triumphs. Although a graphic novel that spans nearly 300 pages has far more room for character development than a 15 page short story, that doesn’t serve as an excuse for neglecting character development and diving right into the story.

Bradley Clark said

at 4:16 pm on Sep 19, 2010

In Borowski’s defense, using minimal detail on the characters while contrasting that with high detailed environments and more of a “play-by-play” feel to the reading could have been his strategy, while Spiegelman ensured that the characters were properly developed – occasionally at the cost of details. There was a certain strength to Borowski’s writing that wasn’t quite present in Maus, however, and that was the vivid detail he presents which makes it clear cut what exactly is going on and the chronological order of which those events occurred. Personally, that was where the strengths stopped for me, and it was a stretch to consider that a strength. As stated earlier, his main weakness was the lack of character development. I was apathetic as to whether or not the characters in his story survived, and that was because I had no empathy for them. This really hampered getting across his message because, generally speaking, the Holocaust is a story of survival; and when the reader has no desire to see the characters survive, the author has failed in that regard. Spiegelman’s story, on the other hand, succeeded universally in my mind.

Bradley Clark said

at 4:16 pm on Sep 19, 2010

Art Spiegelman had a perfect balance of detail and the lack thereof within his story. He effectively paired the terms “graphic” and “novel” in every regard. Where detail was present in the writing, the images were a supporting actor to the text; when the image was to be the star, the text aided in getting the point across. There were few, if any, instances when I felt the story was awkwardly portrayed in Maus, and, in the end, I found his story far more compelling. The strengths in Maus aided the reading in the same way the weaknesses within “This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen” hindered the message. While both stories tackled the same event in history, in the end, Maus comes up head and shoulders above Borowski’s interpretation of the Holocaust.

Brianne Blankenship said

at 4:18 pm on Sep 19, 2010

Reading Maus by ArtSpeigelman and "This way for the gas" by Tadeusz Borowski, you can clearly see the different techniques of rhetoric. Art used a more straight forward way of telling about the holocaust in the form of a storybook whereas Borowski used a more metaphoric technique to tell a story. Reading Borowski it reminded me of the usual versions of the hoocaust being told more of a boring expression of someone in the moment in the holocaust. I like Maus way of using rhetoric because it uses the accounts from a credible source which was the authors father Valdek. Borowski way is more of someone writing their own version of someones experiece of the holocaust but it doesn't tell exactly who is telling of the experience.

Brianne Blankenship said

at 4:21 pm on Sep 19, 2010

Pretty much Art Speigelman way of telling a story is way more captivating ant it keeps the readers attention. Borowski's way is much more boring and lacks credible sources of where he got his information from to tell a story.

Hannah Selewski said

at 4:27 pm on Sep 19, 2010

These two pieces of personal narratives were able to reach the reader on a very personal and emotional level, and at the same time have two different approaches in doing so. In Art Spiegelman’s Maus I felt very connected with Vladek’s personal struggle to survive, which in turn led him to his lifestyle following the Holocaust, which has forever shaped his character and relationships thereafter. Having never read a graphic novel before, this was a very different reading experience for me that I felt had just as much affect on me as oppose to reading a traditional novel would have. One of the very evident strengths in Maus is the way in which you are able to feel very connected to both Art Spiegelman and his relationship with his father Vladek, but also Vladek’s personal will to survive the Holocaust. The Holocaust is a very interesting event in history to learn from, and I think Maus allows you to be able to learn about it in a very new but just as effective way.
The second piece of literature This Way to the Gas, Ladies and Gentleman, by Tadeusz Borowski was very horrifying and at the same time brought a chilling sense of the reality these survivors were forced to live in. It gave you a different perspective of the camps, and the personal anguish the workers were living with on a daily basis, knowing the future that lied ahead for the people arriving to the camps. The story I felt was more affective out of the two was Maus just because it had a very real and new approach to telling of a time in history that was a true nightmare of reality.

Mohamad Kaakarli said

at 4:57 pm on Sep 19, 2010

Two stories about the novel could never have been so much different yet in so many ways, respectfully, the same. Both Maus, by Spiegelman and This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, by Borowski tell a tale of the Holocaust; however it is clearly notable that each author uses different mediums to portray the story. Another notable difference are the intentions each author has given, for example Spiegelman differs by add detailed imagery. This imagery to me was far more effective than Borowski’s, even though Borowski used descriptive words, the pictures to me carried a stronger message. Obviously when an author writes about the Holocaust, the reader should expect a drill drilling pathos into them, which is clearly evident in both pieces. But the biggest difference throughout the two literary pieces is the distinction between Borowski’s informative story versus Spiegelman’s narrative story.
Overall I found Maus a greater piece of literature all around. This decision can be traced due to the fact that Spiegelman did not just describe how bad and ugly the Holocaust was, but more so interacted our feelings into a rollercoaster with ups and downs the way Vladek had lived before, after, and during the Holocaust.

James Logan said

at 5:00 pm on Sep 19, 2010

Both “Maus” by Art Spieglman and "This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen" by Tadeusz Borowski are stories which discuss personal experiences of the Holocaust. Both authors establish credibility since they were first-hand accounts on the Holocaust. These two pieces of writing give the reader a different perspective of what it was like during the horrific event of the Holocaust. I believe that the intended audiences of both pieces of writing were to the general public. I feel that both stories were to inform the people of what is was like in the concentration camps and what they had to endure while they were there. I believe that the graphic narrative “Maus” did a superb job of this. I was able to establish an emotional connection to Vladek due to the book beginning by informing the reader who he was exactly and what his life was like before being thrown into the concentration camps. The artistic techniques of “Maus” also enabled me to establish this connection. The imagery had really captured me because I was really able to get an idea of what it must have been like to be in the concentration camps. I did not feel as connected to "This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen" because I believe that Tadeusz Borowski was more concerned of listing facts and really just describing his surroundings as opposed to really telling the reader as to what it was like for him to be through such a devastating experience. I found it to be a little more dry where as “Maus” definitely allows you to be captured emotionally.

Fahad Chudhry said

at 5:46 pm on Sep 19, 2010

The comparison between Maus and This way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentleman is that both of the story stories talk about the holocaust and how the Nazis killed hundreds of thousands of people. In Maus I feel like Art Spiegelman describes the holocaust in a way where you can understand the situation a lot more then Tadeusz Borowski, who gives a lot of strong mental images of camps. This way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentleman is a powerful more gruesome story of the holocaust camps where the details make you want to puke your guts out because of the details and the jobs the people had to do. They also had to watch the Nazis soldiers kill, beat and abuse their powers in front of them as they like enjoyed killing the Jewish people and others. I felt like Spiegelman’s story was a positive and it was effective way to reach out to people who don’t know about the holocaust as much. The graphic novel provides the readers with details that effective them but don’t make the reader feel like he or she will throw up after I also feel like I connected with Vladek more because I understood his pain more. There were also emotions in the Maus that can be felt in a true love relationship that some people have in the world. In the other short story by Tadeusz Borowski he gives the story of the camps and how the people were treated less than human beings and what got to me was the fact they didn’t care about kids or anyone in the camp. As I read more it was getting hard to keep my mind from going crazy because it feels like Nazis had no human attachment or emotions to anything they just killed for fun. Maus and This way for the Gas, Landis and Gentleman are both great story novels, but Maus is a better one to read because it will get the message across about the importance of what happened to the people during World War II.

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