Essay on Wallace Rhetorical Analysis

Words: 1397
Pages: 6

A Rhetorical Analysis of “This is Water”

If one were to try to imagine a world without air, then it would certainly be very different than the world as humans know it. Since air is essential to the livelihood of most life on Earth, it could be considered an “important reality.” In David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech, “This is Water” to the 2005 graduating class of Kenyon College, Wallace states that “the most obvious, ubiquitous, important realities are often the ones that are the hardest to see and talk about.” (Wallace) Despite the necessity for air, most take its beautiful existence for granted. Wallace believes unawareness leads to unhappiness, and thus wants his audience to actively think about their surroundings. He
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It is structured to hook in the audience. Also, it gives a metaphorical background to real-life examples used in the speech such as not considering that “the Hummer that just cut [oneself] off is maybe being driven by a father whose little child is hurt or sick in the seat next to him, and he's trying to rush to the hospital, and he's in a way bigger, more legitimate hurry,” which makes the message even more vivid. The parable ends in a memorable manner, as well. Its resounding closing statement “that we have to keep reminding ourselves, over and over: ’this is water, this is water,’" ties everything back together that effort must be made in order to see people and consider their lives instead of viewing them as scenery.
By building common ground with the audience before getting far into his speech, Wallace hopes the crowd will see some of themselves in his experiences; relating with the Kenyon students would put more weight behind his argument to them. College-aged Americans might feel as if they are the epitome of existence, that the world revolves around them, and others are both inferior and in their way. Wallace recognizes this phenomenon, and confidently explains how it is normal human thinking. “This sort of natural, basic self-centeredness,” he elaborates, is not discussed “because it's so socially repulsive, but it's pretty much the same for all of us, deep down.” Wallace surely made a connection with the students by sharing his honest