Analysis Of Totally By Taylor Mali

988 words - 4 pages

People of the current generation have adjusted their speech in order to avoid criticism for whatever opinions they may express. Of course, we all have opinions, but do we want to be told that we’re wrong? No, and society has changed because of our weakness and inability to accept being wrong. Instead of declaring our thoughts with absolute belief, we add an interrogative tone to allow things we say to be changed without it having an affect on how smart or cool we seem to be. In “Totally,” Taylor Mali uses figurative language, diction, and syntax to convey that society has lost its voice of conviction.
Figurative language, which includes tone, metaphor, irony, etc., plays a huge role in the translation of the text. It allows us to decipher a deeper meaning behind the literal meaning of words, whether or not they are in a phrase. The tone of the poem is authoritative, yet jokingly interrogative. Though he uses punctuation and diction to display an interrogative point of view, he states things in a way that shows us, very clearly, that he firmly believes in them as well. In the first few lines of his first stanza and second stanza, Mali uses pronouns you and you’re to show his point of view is that of an adult, who notices and has an opinion on communication patterns. It’s how he addresses society. He informs us of the, “tragically cool interrogative tone,” and how it makes us sound like we don’t know what we’re talking about. Then, around the middle of both stanzas, he switches to the point of view of a teenager, including himself in the crowd of insecure speakers by utilizing the pronouns I’m, I’ve, I, my, me, and our. In his third and fourth stanza, he includes himself in the group entirely, which shows us that every trend rubs off on everyone, even if just a little. He also uses a metaphor in the third stanza to show that conviction is dwindling away, “with the rest of the rain forest.” The rain forest is society, and the rest of us who use conviction could disappear if we allow social change to take over. And then suddenly, he is himself in his fifth stanza and hugely against the conformity to societal change. “[He] entreat[s] [us], [he] implore[s] [us], [he] exhort[s] [us], [he] challenge[s] [us]: to speak with conviction.”
Figurative language isn’t alone; diction helps with translation of text too. Diction deals with the choice of words so that each word conveys their meaning to the overall meaning of the poem. In his first stanza, he tells us that question marks and, “parenthetical (you know?)’s have been attaching themselves to the ends of our sentences.” He chose attaching because it personifies the question marks and you know’s in a way that gives them the ability to put themselves there and...

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