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Riley Kramer
Kelly Bladl
UWRT 1101
7 December 2016

Rhetorical Analysis: V-J Day In Times Square Picture

On August 14, 1945, Alfred Eisenstaedt was running through Times Square with only the
assignment to photograph the celebration of the United States victory of Japan. At the end of the
day, he turned in his film at 8 p.m. to Life magazine and with that one of the most iconic
American photographs was published. Currently, an enlarged version of the photo is displayed at
the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, but at the time it was the cover of the magazine the
morning after. This image is remarkable for how much is conveyed despite being what
Eisenstaedt initially shrugged off as a snapshot. By analyzing, it can be understood that
through emotional appeals the V-J Day in Times Square photo is a representation that things are
going back to a simpler time.
A simpler time is reflective in the symbolism in the positions of the nurse and the sailor,
the focal points of the photograph. By the slope of the womans legs, her body being fluid, and
her face being hidden, shes a symbol of the land America was and now is again since the war
with Japan is over. Her hidden face, her anonymity, in the photo is important as well because it
has the deeper meaning that she represents everyone in the war. In addition, her white nurse
outfit represents homefront America, which has a particularly interesting and meaningful
emotional appeal to her stockings. Historically, the stockings shes wearing hold symbolism.
During WWII nylon was needed to create parachutes for U.S. soldiers, so the production of

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nylon stockings went down after the U.S. commandeered most of the nylon factories. Nylon was
rationed to companies who needed it and stockings soon became a luxury. By wearing those
stockings, it acts as a reflection that the war is over and day to day things, such as wearing nylon
stockings, are returning to normalcy. On the other hand, the sailor is angular and his elbow is
bent at ninety degrees as he grips the woman in an embrace. The angles show sturdiness and
strength, like how the U.S. military is represented after a great victory. Hes wearing a sailor
uniform and represents those whove returned from the war and his grip on the womans waist
reflects how hes reclaiming homefront America and the tension in his hand is emoting that
tough times are over. The hidden meaning of returning to a simpler time can more minorly be
found in the setting. Surrounding the duo are returned sailors and a clear sky. The returned
sailors mean the war has come to a conclusion and the clear sky symbolizes peace and is
synonymous with a good day. These emotional appeals, found in all these deeper meanings of the
photo reach to represent a return back to simpler times for the American people.
This photo has credibility with all of its symbolisms and deeper meanings because its
audience is the American people of the contemporary time, and the two celebrating are an
American soldier and an American nurse. By those two being the focal points during a post
World War II Americana, the image can be taken as a bona fide example of celebration for
American patriotism. Theres also credibility in the setting of Times Square. Times Square is one
of the most famous American locations in the most famous city in the United States: New York
City. Its also the location of one of the main ports that welcomed home Navy sailors, which adds
post-war time significance. If there was ever a location to photograph an American celebration,
Times Square was an intelligent, quintessentially American choice to choose. In addition, the
author of the photograph, Alfred Eisenstaedt, is an American success story and has credibility as

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a famous photographer to find the best location to illustrate the celebration of V-J Day. These
sources of credibility provide the picture with a strong defense backing the emotional and
patriotic appeals.
The celebration of V-J Day was the reason of the taking of the photo, but the purpose was
to take an informative and intriguing enough photo to draw in readers. The draw was mainly on
the pull that America was returning back to its simpler time through the American people on V-J
Day. This picture had great success because when it was published in Life magazine it became
the most widely famous photo the magazine ever released. Furthermore, the embrace evokes
emotion and spurs the action of picking up the magazine. Coupled with an article, this pictures
effectiveness increased. With the context of Life being a reputable informative magazine, the
picture was provocative and as a cover two people in an embrace was eye catching.
While the picture itself was slim on logical appeal, it was informative in the sense it
informed what was going on in Times Square during V-J day. In a contemporary sense, the
picture acted as a source of news, but now the picture acts as a source of history. The simpler
time that was ushered in with V-J Day experienced a catalyst with the publication of this photo.
The warmth that comes from this photo without a doubt makes it interesting to look at. Although
the hunt to find the two people in the photograph was mostly unsuccessful (the nurse was
identified), the deeper meaning of returning to a simpler time was.
The V-J Day In Times Square photo was a remarkable snapshot Eisenstaedt took and
more important than its deeper meaning, the American people interpreted it joyfully. While
maybe the photograph could have had more emotional appeals with lighting changes or
meaningful posing, the rawness made it poignant. If there were any purposeful changes to the
current photo, I think a different effect wouldve been transposed as the simpler meaning

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wouldve been altered. Besides, in the time of a war ending, no meaning could drive home more
than the promise of going back to a simpler time.

Citations Page:
The picture: Eisenstaedt, Alfred. The Kiss. Digital image. Time.com. Wordpress, 14 Aug. 1945.
Sundin, Sarah. "Make It Do Stocking Shortages in World War II." Make It Do - Stocking Shortages
in World War II. Bloggingbistro.com, 4 Apr. 2011. Web. 07 Dec. 2016.
"25 of the Most Iconic Photographs." CNN. Cable News Network, 27 Sept. 2016. Web. 07 Dec. 2016

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