Commencement Address

In: English and Literature

Submitted By tonemhp
Words 1235
Pages 5
B. Commencement Address
Essay by Tone M. H. Petersen

Most people know that it is important to show kindness towards other people and it might seem like a very trivial piece of advice to give people if you tell them to remember to be more kind. However sometimes in the grand scheme of things and in the overpowering and overwhelming light of our own ambition and need for success we still let opportunities of kindness pass us by. This is what George Saunders[1] addresses in his commencement addres that he delivered in May 2013 at Syracuse University in New York State.

In his speech Saunders uses 2nd person singular/plural, 1st person plural, and 1st person singular. The use of 2nd person plural makes it clear that Saunders is addressing the audience directly and that he wants them to think, take action and be responsible. The use of 1st person plural (“we”) creates a bond between Saunders and the audience:

“Each of us is born with a series of built-in confusions […]: (1) we’re central to the universe […]; (2) we’re separate from the universe […] and (3) we’re permanent […]. Now, we don’t really believe these things - intellectually we know better. (ll.19-120)

In this quote we can see how he includes the audience in his statement and therefore he is also stating that what he is saying applies to everyone, even himself - and that they all know better, meaning that they are collectively responsible. The values that he are advocating are relevant to everyone and therefore, by using 1st person plural, he does not cut anyone off from receiving the message. In the speech he also makes use some of his own life-experiences and therefore he also uses 1st person singular. This makes the text more personal and subjective because the audience is allowed a glimpse into Saunders own life which somewhat makes him more equal to them:

“Do I regret the occasional…...

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