Here is the "Address to the Graduating Class" by Faulkner.

Years ago, before any of you were born, a wise Frenchman said, “If youth knew; if age could.” We all know what he meant: that when you are young, you have the power to do anything, but you don’t know what to do. Then, when you have got old and experience and observation have taught you answers, you are tired, frightened; you don’t care, you want to be left alone as long as you yourself are safe; you no longer have the capacity or the will to grieve over any wrongs but your own.

So you young men and women in this room tonight, and in thousands of other rooms like this one about the earth today, have the power to change the world, rid it forever of war and injustice and suffering, provided you know how, know what to do. And so according to the old Frenchman, since you can’t know what to do because you are young, then anyone standing here with a head full of white hair, should be able to tell you.

But maybe this one is not as old and wise as his white hairs pretend or claim. Because he can’t give you a glib answer or pattern either. But he can tell you this, because he believes this. What threatens us today is fear. Not the atom bomb, nor even fear of it, because if the bomb fell on Oxford tonight, all it could do would be to kill us, which is nothing, since in doing that, it will have robbed itself of its only power over us: which is fear of it, the being afraid of it. Our danger is not that. Our danger is the forces in the world today which are trying to use man’s fear to rob him of his individuality, his soul, trying to reduce him to an unthinking mass by fear and bribery—giving him free food which he has not earned, easy and valueless money which he has not worked for; the economies or ideologies or political systems, communist or socialist or democratic, whatever they wish to call themselves, the tyrants and the politicians, American or European or Asiatic, whatever they call themselves, who would reduce man to one obedient mass for their own aggrandizement and power, or because they themselves are baffled and afraid, afraid of, or incapable of, believing in man’s capacity for courage and endurance and sacrifice.

That is what we must resist, if we are to change the world for man’s peace and security. It is not men in the mass who can and will save Man. It is Man himself, created in the image of God so that he shall have the power and the will to choose right from wrong, and so be able to save himself because he is worth saving;—Man, the individual, men and women, who will refuse always to be tricked or frightened or bribed into surrendering, not just the right but the duty too, to choose between justice and injustice, courage and cowardice, sacrifice and greed, pity and self;—who will believe always not only in the right of man to be free of injustice and rapacity and deception, but the duty and responsibility of man to see that justice and truth and pity and compassion are done.

So, never be afraid. Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion, against injustice and lying and greed. If you, not just you in this room tonight, but in all the thousands of other rooms like this one about the world today and tomorrow and next week, will do this, not as a class or classes, but as individuals, men and women, you will change the earth; in one generation all the Napoleons and Hitlers and Caesars and Mussolinis and Stalins and all the other tyrants who want power and aggrandizement, and the simple politicians and time-servers who themselves are merely baffled or ignorant or afraid, who have used, or are using, or hope to use, man’s fear and greed for man’s enslavement, will have vanished from the face of it.

Here, I see mainly two groups of words that can show the author's perspective: "we," "us" and "you," "your."
What I thought is that because this speech is motivational and gives life advice, it has the second person point of view. Because you do write a how-to-do-something or what-to-do articles by using this perspective, right?
However, my book says the perspective is the first person. Even though I see a lot in the speech was said about "us," I doubt if it's not more about "you" (since it was intended for the graduates whom the speaker could see and address; hence the word "address" in the title).
Could you help with what's wrong here?
Also, could here be two perspectives? I saw such a possibility as well though again, my book says otherwise.

  • 1
    What book are you referring to?
    – DukeZhou
    Jun 26, 2018 at 19:12
  • @DukeZhou It's a book on the SAT literature exam preparation. Sometimes, the explanations there are not that good at all... Jul 15, 2018 at 8:37

1 Answer 1


The perspective you are talking about is generally applied to narration, not oratory or addresses. That said, this seems like it would be "2nd person".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.