Prompt #4: Using Gladwell’s concept of cultural legacy as a starting point, what does Maus suggest are the “legacies” of the Holocaust for the Spiegelman family and even perhaps for the broader Jewish community, or even humankind?


Advice for Essay #4 Thesis:


Your thesis statement for Essay #4 should identify the specific legacy or legacies your essay will discuss. The thesis should come at the end of the second introductory paragraph and must identify the cultural legacy/ies that you contend The Complete Maus shows to stem from the Holocaust experience. You may also want to refer to the specific textual trait or features of Maus that help to show the theme you will discuss; explicitly naming such features in the thesis can help to focus your essay and make it more argumentative and analytical.


Below are some sample thesis statements—both problematic and strong—for Essay #4. These models may help you to develop a workable, analytic claim. These samples are models only, so you should not reproduce their language or simply copy their ideas.


Weak Thesis Statements


The following thesis statements are too vague:

Example 1: In The Complete Maus, Art Spiegelman reveals how the tragic events of the Holocaust influenced his parents and him as a cultural legacy.

How did the events influence Spiegelman and his parents? What is the cultural legacy that was passed down?

Example 2: Maus shows how Vladek’s traits that persevered throughout the Holocaust are perpetuated as their own legacies, and they continue long after the war to affect his behavior and relationships.

What are the traits that persevered? How do they continue to affect his behavior?

Successful Thesis Statements

These thesis statements are stronger because they identify specific legacies and usually refer to textual features that will be discussed. Many of these statements also preview the organization of the essay by identifying specific points that will be used to organize the essay’s paragraphs:


By using a dual time frame in Maus, Art Spiegelman emphasizes the differences between Vladek Spiegelman’s experiences during the Holocaust to Art’s experiences in America in order to show that one legacy of the Holocaust is a clouded relationship between the survivors and their descendants, who did not experience the horrors of the Holocaust and are unable to fully understand the Holocaust survivors’ insecurity and survival instincts.



By showing in The Complete Maus scenes set both during the Holocaust period and decades later, Art Spiegelman suggests that Vladek Spiegelman’s Holocaust experience left him with a legacy of destructive obsessive behaviors but also with a strong sense of survival and resilience.



Spiegelman’s text reveals various long-lasting cultural legacies from the Holocaust for its survivors and their descendants such as a strong will to survive, intense but problematic emotional attachments, and an unfathomable and multi-generational sense of guilt.



Two of the strongest cultural legacies of the Holocaust are deep feelings of both attachment and guilt, which affect the survivors, Vladek and Anja, and also the next generation, represented by Artie, in both positive and negative ways.




Maus suggests that the Holocaust has left the families of survivors with a legacy of intergenerational misunderstanding because descendants like Artie who did not experience the Holocaust are weighed down with guilt, feelings of insufficiency, and an inability to fully grasp the experiences of the survivors and victims.



By including multiple generations of the Spiegelman family in the text, Art Spiegelman’s Maus shows that the Holocaust has created a legacy of guilt not just for the survivors but also for the descendants of survivors.