Liberty Bonds and Domestic Life_Augmenter’s Post.

World War I Propaganda Poster

As I was reading this seemingly insurmountable novella, I came across certain thing that stood out to me. Normally, when I read a new text and there are words or references used in the text that I do not understand, I google them (Yay to the  21st Century!!). When Miranda and Adam were trying to keep wake by reading a couple of Bible verses, Adam made a reference to a Biblical verse that was supposed to be from Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. He said, “If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take…” [Porter 188]. Being Christian, I found this verse fascinating as I dis not recognize it. In a bid to satisfy my inquisition, I searched up the prayer on google and the first post on the text from Wikipedia had this poster at the side.

The lines “If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take” are from an 18th Century Children’s bedtime classic. The first adapted version of the original piece reads,

“Now I lay me down to sleep,                                                                                                                                                    I pray the Lord my soul to keep.                                                                                                                                            If I should die before I wake,                                                                                                                                                   I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

The US government altered to lines of this children’s classic to say,

“Now I lay me down to sleep,                                                                                                                                                    I pray the Lord my soul to keep.                                                                                                                                       God bless my brother gone to war                                                                                                                              Across the seas in France so far.                                                                                                                                         Oh, may his fight for Liberty                                                                                                                                            save millions more than little me.                                                                                                                                    From cruel fates and ruthless blasts,–                                                                                                                            And bring him safely home at last.”

If anything, this poster demonstrates augments our discussions from class about how the war fed into domestic life. This poster literally turns the most intimate aspect of a child’s bedtime ritual into a war propaganda tool to get people to buy Liberty Bonds. The poster itself shows a mother and child (the non-combatants) praying and the background of the photo shows the framed picture of a soldier in the war. Since the theme of the poster has been personalized by the title, “My Soldier” it is safe to assume that the soldier being referred to here is the father of the child. This is most likely why this prayer would be important to the child and would prove to be a stronger war propaganda if the mother and child have stronger and more intimate relations with the soldier who has gone off to war.The poster is indeed a subtle coercion tactic to lure non-combatants into purchasing liberty bonds for the war. Furthermore, the backdrop of the poster itself is in the colors of the United States flag which to me would symbolize unity, freedom and patriotism (this thought is also going off lines of their national anthem).

In the text itself, the noun ‘Liberty’ is capitalized. This is intentional as it aims to imprint in the minds of the people of the United States that the war efforts are for their freedom and as such buying the bonds would help achieve the set out goals of liberty and freedom. Ironically, the terms ‘BUY UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT BONDS’ and ‘THIRD LIBERTY LOAN’ are written in bigger and even bigger letters than the term ‘Liberty’ in the bedtime classic as the term ‘bonds’ plays on the idea that the term ‘bonds’ as used in this poster could also mean ‘BONDage’. The citizens of the United states have practically been held captive by the war efforts. The intimate aspects of their lives have been invaded for propaganda means and people are forced to buy Liberty bonds even when they cannot afford to, lest they are harassed by the Lusk Committee.

The audience of this text can’t help but agree with Miranda’s thoughts as she asks, “Coal, oil, iron, gold, international finance, why don’t you tell us about them you little liar?” [Porter 175]. It appears to Miranda and the audience of this novella that dealing with these issues are better ways to win the war as opposed to holding citizens captive by feeding into their intimate lives and forcing them to buy liberty bonds.

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