Essay about Wallace Rhetorical Analysis

1393 Words Jan 26th, 2012 6 Pages
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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In “This is Water” Wallace speaks from his own experiences in order to help others; he went through depression before finally hanging himself in 2008. One should not think of this as contradicting his points, though. This act shows that Wallace, too, was human, and capable of mistakes. Furthermore, he wanted people to have better lives than he did, and he believed they can do so by following his advice.
A short parable comprises the opening paragraph of Wallace’s speech. In this, there are two fish swimming along when they pass an older fish, headed in the opposite direction, that asks them how the water is. The two fish continue along for a bit before one asks the other “what the hell is water?” This serves as an extended metaphor used by Wallace to demonstrate his main argument for awareness in life. Just as the fish do not consider their surroundings, people more often than not fail to consider
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