significance of quote"I think of the picture of the girl on the poster and, for a moment, believe that my life depends on winning her. And if I press ever deeper into the arms that embrace me,...

significance of quote

"I think of the picture of the girl on the poster and, for a moment, believe that my life depends on winning her. And if I press ever deeper into the arms that embrace me, perhaps a miracle may happen." p150

Why does that poster stir Paul so deeply? Is there any moment in the book in which Paul wants something as much as he wants to win over the woman in the poster? What does she represent to him?

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booboosmoosh's profile pic

booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

In World War II (perhaps the Korean war, as well as others), pin-up girls were very popular. Women such as Betty Grable, in a one-piece swim suit, with long legs and beautiful face and figure, were posted wherever a man could post such a picture—lockers, etc. It might have taken the place of a girl-at-home that a soldier might not have, but I would think it represented home specifically. It did not matter where home was. Not only would it remind (as mentioned above) the soldier of a life without war, but it might also have reminded the soldier of the country and way of life he knew he was defending. The pin-up girl, no matter who she was, represented the U.S. and a way of life, and holding fast to that went a long way to keeping morale up during wartime.

More info. about pin-up girls (Betty Grable was the most popular)...

The Varga girls became so popular that from 1942-1946, due to a high volume of military demand, “9 million copies of the magazine-without adverts and free of charge was sent to American troops stationed overseas and in domestic bases.” Nevertheless, not one picture could be as significant or memorable as the Varga Girls nose art of the WWII bombers; not seen as prostitutes but patriots for good luck.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pin-up_girl

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pin-up_girl

clairewait's profile pic

clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Given his battle experience at this point in the story, consider also that anything non-war, at this point, is going to stir him deeply.  He is a damaged person.  Physically, maybe, but pyschologically, definitely.  In the same way that the cherry blossoms deter Detering and cause him to run away, for Paul it is a simple poster of a woman.

rrteacher's profile pic

rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Throughout the text, Paul claims that the worst casualties of the war are not the dead but the survivors. The war has robbed them of their youth- after all, they spent what should have been the best years of their lives in a living hell. The picture of the girl is one reminder that a life exists outside of war. We see other examples too, for example when Paul and his comrades are lounging on the grass behind the lines, joking with each other before going to the front. They are very small glimmers of hope in a grim world. Interestingly, Paul claims elsewhere that in order to fight and stay alive, a soldier has to be able to banish such thoughts from his mind.

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

This poster is so important to Paul and moves him so deeply precisely because it represents something of the beauty and hope of life that Paul has all but lost thanks to his experiences at war. Let us remember that Paul, like so many other teenagers, were taken to the front before they had even began to live their lives. They suffer intense disillusionment as a result. In the poster, Paul finds hope of dreams and emotions that he has had to forget or suppress to survive the reality of war.

vangoghfan's profile pic

vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The poster stirs Paul deeply because it reminds him of the beauty and happiness that can in fact exist in a life not dominated by war. It reminds him of all the good things he associates with past. It reminds him of the possibility of true love rather than mere sex. The girl in the post is the antithesis of the prostitutes with whom he consorts during wartime. For him, she represents everything that is ideal and wonderful in life.

suzannelucas's profile pic

suzannelucas | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted on

The poster stirs Paul deeply because it reminds him of the beauty and happiness that can in fact exist in a life not dominated by war. It reminds him of all the good things he associates with past. It reminds him of the possibility of true love rather than mere sex. The girl in the post is the antithesis of the prostitutes with whom he consorts during wartime. For him, she represents everything that is ideal and wonderful in life.

Thank you. I find all your comments so insightful.

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