Analysis of "On Being a Cripple" by Nancy Mairs

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Analysis of "On Being a Cripple" by Nancy Mairs

By | November 2012
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The descriptive essay, "On Being A Cripple," by Nancy Mairs demonstrates a purpose to postulate the way society has brainwashed people to judge others incorrectly in order to expose the true thoughts of a person living beneath the glamorized world. Mairs strongly feels that "[she has not] lost anything in the course of this calamitous disease" (37), known as Multiple Sclerosis, a disease that deteriorates the nerves and interferes with brain and body communication because the immune system has eaten away the protective covering on the nerve cells.

To assert her confidence, Mairs initiates her essay with a strong, simple term to define herself: "a cripple" (37). She wants society to "wince" (37) in order to portray that candy coated euphemisms have made society weak. Mairs does not want her readers to feel sympathy, but to see the perspective of a person with the disease. Towards the end of the essay, Mairs is reflects back on society's ways by comparing herself to other women who have the same disease and by declating she is "not a disease" (43) magnifies what this condition is to her on a more personal level. This disease is not just a besetment, it is a part of her life.

Mairs exemplifies her suggested use of "cripple" by alluding to the "Lindsfarne Gospel" (37), which contains the first use of the word "cripple." Mairs uses this to allow the audience to view the world in a more formal way. Therefore, a gospel might put on a different view of “cripple” rather than an impolite slang term. Her goal is to create an acceptance and understanding of the word and her condition to the society and the people who are living with the condition as well. Mairs points out numerous times that she has as learned to live through her disease in which she compares herself to many others who have MS yet gave up on trying to live their life; Mairs sees herself "like fat people, who are expected to be jolly," (41) but states "cripples must bear their lot meekly and...
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