Pictures of War

The third WWI poster that we looked at in class really struck me because I think it was so rich in so many different areas. We touched on a lot of great points about the messages that could be read through that image. Something that I struck me after class though was how well adjusted the man in the photo looks. The man depicted obviously survived The Great War, but he also seems to be fine physically. He is engaging with his children, and this makes me infer that he came back to live a relatively normal life. After reading and discussing Rivers’ article about PTSD and the treatment for the disorder, this picture makes me really sad. While the man in the picture seems as if he is physically fine, I wonder if what he lacks in physical injury is well made up for in his mental state.

2006at6185_jpg_l While the world has come a long way in treating and recognizing PTSD, it is still an unseen disease that many people don’t take as serious as other physical injuries. This picture makes me uncomfortable because this man is staring directly at the audience, and I think that there is a genuine pain in his eyes. This poster may have been meant as a way to encourage men to enlist, but looking back at it now, I think it shows more. This poster is still relevant today because I think it shows the false perception that men come back from war as well adjusted citizens ready to return to normal life, but there are still traumas in the mind that can’t be as easily remedied. When I see the pain and regret in this man’s eyes I wonder what he would say to his children in regards to war, and if he could even say anything to make them truly understand the horror of trench warfare.

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One thought on “Pictures of War

  1. Samantha, Your read of this poster shifts half way through your post from a “well-adjusted” man to one who is experiencing pain. The implied message of the poster seems to be that the man did not go to war and now is dejected and feels like a failure when his children ask him to tell stories about what sort of noble work he did during the war. When your post focuses on how the man’s face makes you uncomfortable, it seems you are leaning toward this more likely interpretation of the poster. Remember that the posters were meant to encourage the viewer to do “the right thing.” They are propaganda, and reading them within the contexts of their period will help you to see their impact on the viewers to whom they were aimed.

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