Hold Up Your End

Title Hold Up Your End
Creator W.B. King
Date 1917
Format 20.5 x 28.5 in
Description W.B. King’s 1918 propaganda poster ‘Hold up your end!’ is emblematic of a coordinated effort by the American Red Cross to garner humanitarian support for WWI through evocative imagery. The relatively small 20.5 x 28.5 in. lithograph shows a young, rosy-cheeked nurse holding one end of an empty brown medical stretcher, while the other end is extended desperately toward the viewer with the plea ‘Hold up your end!’ emblazoned diagonally across the image in informal black lettering. The visual metaphor of lending support for the war effort by assisting the nurse is accompanied with verbal anchorage calling for ‘One Hundred Million Dollars’ in donations placed below a bright red cross, the recognizable logo of the aid organization. While not explicitly stated, the poster clearly elevates monetary donations to the Red Cross as an expression of patriotism in lieu of service. Multiple persuasive appeals coalesce in the poster to evoke feelings of guilt and anxiety in the viewer. The nurse’s furrowed brow, piercing eyes, and grim facial expression communicate an undeniable sense of fear that is exacerbated by her placement beside an exploding artillery shell. Although the viewer is able to encounter the image from a position of comfort and safety, the nurse is alone, trapped in the middle of an active warzone overseas. Furthermore, without the inclusion of wounded soldiers in the image, the viewer is forced to see the courageous nurse as personally imperiled by her surroundings. Ultimately, the poster strikes a careful balance between depicting a dire setting, and empowering the audience with the belief that their financial support can mitigate the situation.
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