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David Foster Wallace Commencement Speech

1324 words - 6 pages

David Foster Wallace was the commencement speaker for the 2005 graduating class of Kenyon College. Throughout his commencement speech, he made certain he entertained the young college students and not bore them with his speech. He does this by first telling a story that would first attract their attention and after he has caught their attention, he gives them information that would help them understand his speech, he talks about different extreme situations, he uses the phrase capital-T twice to gain attention and importance, and then proceeds to telling stories that the audience can relate to. Wallace’s main point he wanted to get across was that we should not live our live with a blind ...view middle of the document...

This means that they are not thinking for themselves that’s is why they commit suicide. Wallace wants all of us to know that we do have a choice and that we can think for ourselves and not be blinded by the fact that our mind has a default setting that thinks for us.
Wallace gives many stories and situations in his speech that his intended audience can relate to. It is understandable that Wallace was chosen as the commencement speaker to address the students that were graduating. That was the primary audience he targeted and was trying to reach out to. But we must realize also that there are parents, family members and friends attending the graduation as well that are able to relate to the stories because as adults most of them have lived the life Wallace described in his stories. All the people at the graduation that day could connect to the speech and so could the people that were able to see the speech even after the graduation through YouTube and written excerpts of it years and years after it was given. The most part of his story talks about going to the grocery store after work frustrated and angry, and thinking you are the center of attention during the moments in which you were frustrated and anger. Wallace starts addressing his audience by saying something everyone in the graduation can relate to, “At the grocery store, you get mad at everyone around you, the person that walks slowly in the aisles, the register lady who has an annoying voice, the car in front of you who can't drive and the Hummer that just caught you off is a reckless driver.” Then he follows by stating what the cause might have been for the situation that frustrated you. He says, “Maybe the Hummer that just cut me 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 get his kid to the hospital, and he's in a bigger, more legitimate hurry than I am: it is actually I who am in HIS way.” After saying this, we know he caught the audience attention because most of them never thought of the situation that way because they were busy thinking they were the center of the world. He adds that part to show them that they must block their default setting of thinking in order to view situations in this manner and not in the manner that everyone around them is causing them pain.
I remember during my senior year, coming to the graduation of my cousin graduating from UGA. I was not listening to the speaker at first because I felt only the graduating students needed the info, and then I looked at my father and how...

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