“This is Water” [Macias]

When you think of a commencement speech you may not consider it as a genre. It is more common to hear a genre classifying styles of music such as pop, rock, country, classical, and etcetera. Writing can also be classified under genres, for example commencement¬†speeches, argumentative essays, persuasive essays, letters, and etcetera. Kerry Dirk describes “Genre” as a rhetorical situation, a tool to help people get things done, and accomplishing a goal, for example making the audience laugh. She also mentions that “… not to say that there aren’t rules that come with genres; the difference is that the rules change as the genre changes…” (Dirk 253). Genres help make decision in the certain type of writing you are going to partake in. This is Water¬†has a different approach for a commencement speech than most are thought of. Many categorize commencement speeches as inspirational, emotional, and humorous. David Foster Wallace doesn’t necessarily obey the rules of a commencement speech, he gets out of character at certain parts of his speech. He seems to have different goals by the outcome of his speech, he is very honest and uses cuss words which gets him out of the genre.

Instead of painting a pretty picture for the graduates, he gives a real life depiction of what adulthood can look like: “boredom, routine, and petty frustration” (Wallace 65). In this way he is able to get the graduates attention as well as the older generation in the audience by giving them something to relate to. Although he describes a clear picture to us for a boring adult life he suggests a different look at the situation, “… if you’re aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently…” (Wallace 3). With the knowledge from what you have learned about thinking and paying attention the people should have more options.

Many other speakers who give commencement speeches may think that Wallace didn’t follow all of the rules for this certain genre: commencement speeches.

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