The Use Of Language In Propaganda Texts Concerning US War Bonds
Purpose of the texts: The purpose of the texts is to persuade the reader to go out and purchase war bonds to support the efforts of the United States in World War 2.
Audience/Context (text 1)
The US only joined World War Two more than 2 years after it had begun on the 1st of September 1939. America had only been watching from the outside in for the past 2 years. The United States joined World War Two on December 7th, 1941 the day of the events of Pearl Harbor where the Japanese bombed the American fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Because the US joined the war late into 1941 it was setting up its presence in WW2 during 1942. The audience of Text 1 is, therefore, an America that has not yet experienced the effects of WW2 on its people and country, a Naive America.
Audience/Context (text 2)
Text 2 was published in 1944. The United States quite a bit different from what it was back in 1941. It was experiencing World War 2 and its effects on the social, political and financial environment. During 1944 the events of the Normandy Landings (Better known as D-Day) and Operation Market Garden were in there was massive loss of life for the allied forces. The audience for text two was a America that had recently experienced a massive loss of life and was in the middle of the largest war it had ever taken part in. A America that was battle hardened.
Copy text/Diction (text 1)
The propaganda poster makes use of different techniques to persuade the reader to buy war bonds. The copy text states “Let’s All fight”, this text is supported by the picture of a soldier and group of workers charging into the darkness as one. The author makes use of a changing font and color. ALL is a larger font size, italicized and changed to the color red, this gives emphasis to the word. The same color and size are applied to the “BUY WAR BONDS” portion of the copy text. This creates a relationship between “All” and Buy War Bonds” and makes them the points of interest. If someone were to pass this propaganda poster and only looked at the red colored words they would still get what the poster is trying to get at. That all people should buy war bonds. The copy text appeals to unity and patriotism due to the copy text stating “Let’s All Fight”. This is due to the choice of diction, Let us all, the people of America support our military and together through our war bonds we will fight with our military for America. The author also makes use of a call to action “Buy War Bonds” to effectively remind and prompt readers to buy war bonds.
Copy text/Diction (text 2)
The copy text states “War Bonds Are Cheaper Than Wooden Crosses Buy More Through Payroll Savings” with this the text infers that investing in war bonds is a cheaper price to pay than the lives of American Soldiers. We know this due to the symbolism of the white crosses and their relationship with the death of soldiers. The author makes clever use of font and color in the copy text. He has the opening words “War Bonds” in a large font size, italicized and in a cursive font which is different than the main bulk of the copy text. This is to ensure that readers immediately recognize that the text is talking about War Bonds. The text then goes on to deliver the message in a clear font which has been fully capitalized. Because it is the main message of the text it is very clear and a person observing the poster from a distance would be able to read the main message and become interested enough to come closer and understand the rest of the poster. In the third section of the copy text, the author makes use of a call to action in the form of “Buy more through pay roll saving” effectively reminding and prompting readers to use up a larger percentage of their wage/salary on War Bonds. However, the author also makes use of the color red and a differing font yet again to separate the call to action from the main message of the poster. The choice of diction in the main message more specifically the words cheaper and wooden crosses only further support the intent of the propaganda. By using the word cheaper it insinuates that buying war bonds is cheaper than something, and by using wooden crosses and the symbolism that it has with the death of American soldiers it makes readers conclude that investing into war bonds is a cheaper price to pay than the lives of American Soldiers.
Symbolism (text 1)
When we take a look at Text 1 we will immediately notice the American soldier charging into battle with a group of workers behind him. The soldier in this poster shows a typical American soldier, ready to fight and eager to charge into battle. This is justified by the almost holy like glow of the soldier. The soldier seems to be charging into the darkness. This darkness symbolizes the new battlefront for America, America has only just started engaging in World War 2 and is new to the battlefield. The Soldier seems unfazed by this new territory though and charges into the darkness. This symbolizes the bravery of the American people. Due America being in a war manufacturing jobs are especially in high demand, behind the soldier are these workers. These workers seem to be traveling with the soldier as if to suggest that they are one. This is justified by the copy text “Let’s All Fight”. Where the use of All refers to the American people. The poster suggests that the backbone of the American struggle is the workers, the people of America. It is not just the Soldier that is fighting this war but it is each and every one of the people in America. This encourages a sense of unity, the text appeals to a sense of unity.
Symbolism (text 2)
When we take a look at Text 2 we will immediately notice the soldier carrying white wooden crosses and holding a shovel. Just like in text 1 the soldier represents the typical American Soldier however unlike text 1 he does not seem eager and ready to fight. The soldier is holding a shovel in his hand, he’s digging the graves around the cemetery, he’s also carrying white wooden crosses. These crosses are scattered around the cemetery and depict the graves of fellow soldiers. Each one of these crosses that the soldier is carrying will eventually become the grave of a dead soldier. Therefore the cross symbolizes the death of American Soldiers. The expression on the face of the soldier seems bitter, this makes sense when we consider the context of this text. When we consider the audience and the context of this Text the message becomes clear. The graves in the propaganda image are the graves of the recently fallen soldiers in D-Day and Operation Market Garden which cost the lives of many American Soldiers. The American people are bitter and this propaganda poster appeals to this bitterness. The poster leaves the audience at the time thinking, they’re dying out there, why aren’t we backing them up with war bonds? They need us now more than ever. Symbolism is also apparent in the copy text since we’ve identified wooden crosses as the death of soldiers we can interpret the statement “War Bonds are cheaper than Wooden Crosses” What this means is that investing into war bonds is a cheaper price to pay than the lives of American Soldiers. Therefore the text appeals to guilt and fear.
Dichotomy between texts 1 and 2
When we take a look at how the two different texts persuade the reader to consider buying war bonds thus supporting the American military effort we will take notice of the fact that the two texts are a dichotomy. Text 1 appeals to a sense of unity and leaves the reader thinking “Let us all, the people of America support our military and together through our war bonds we will fight with our military for America. ” Whilst Text 2 appeals to guilt and fear. The fact that the reader, by choosing not to support the military through war bonds will directly result in the deaths of many soldiers fighting for the readers country and that investing into war bonds is a cheaper price to pay than the lives of American Soldiers. These two propaganda posters are opposite in the perspective they take on the war. Text 1 is positive and believes that by working together they will defeat the enemy whilst Text 2 approaches the same issue in a negative light presenting the reader with the deaths of soldiers. These two opposing perspectives give fruition to an interesting thought, that the context of the propaganda poster created the outlook the propaganda poster has on the war. Text 1 which is more positive had the context of 1942 when America had not yet experienced the war fully compared to the negative viewpoint of text 2 which had the context of 1944 where there was a recent massive loss of life. These two opposing perspectives on World War 2 still both leave the reader with a feeling of unity and patriotism. Text 1 appeals to unity and therefore the unity of the American people thus also appealing to patriotism. Text 2 however indirectly appeals to Unity and patriotism as it leaves the reader thinking, “How are we letting this happen to our soldiers? The good men of America. We must all buy war bonds and support our boys. ”
To conclude, due to the use of language in the propaganda posters we get an accurate sense of the audience (the people of America) at a specific point in time. Those being when America first joined the war in 1942 and when it was fighting for more than 2 years at the battlefront and had recently experienced a massive loss of life. The outlook of the public on these issues and the dichotomy between the two texts that are essentially asking for the same thing but taking different perspectives due to the context of the poster. The use of language in the copy text in conjunction with the symbolism in both text 1 and 2 helped to identify the deeper meaning that the poster was getting at. These being the fact that it is not just the soldier fighting the war but also the people of America for text 1 and that war bonds are a cheaper price to pay than the lives of American Soldiers for text 2.
The use of language in both texts resulted in the reader of the propaganda to respond with “Let us all, the people of America support our military and together through our war bonds we will fight with our military for America” and “How are we letting this happen to our soldiers? The good men of America. We must all buy war bonds and support our boys. ” Both of these responses, directly and indirectly, appeal to both the unity and patriotism of the reader in differing contexts. The American war bond propaganda effort was massively successful as 85 million Americans (out of a population of 131 million) had purchased $185. 7 billion dollars’ worth of bonds which was over $2000 per person, at a time when the average income was $2000 per year.
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