Cripple

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12/05/2011
“Cripple”
Often times, people with disabilities feel sorrow and unfortunate. Nancy Mairs faces sclerosis, a serious condition that limits her ability to do regular, everyday tasks. In her essay, Mairs stresses the meaning of the word “cripple” to the point in which she defines her own meaning of the term. With the use of rhetorical strategies, Mairs presents herself as a strong, proud individual despite her disabilities.

Mairs’ specific language choice reveals that she is not ashamed of her condition. She begins by explaining the first impression of the word “cripple.” She says, “People—crippled or not—wince at the word ‘cripple…’”(line 8). Mairs purposely uses the word “wince” to emphasis shock and horror of others’ reaction towards the word “cripple.” This word choice provides an indication of people’s negative thoughts on the word “cripple.” In contrast, however, Mairs explains that most people do not react as strongly with the words “handicapped” or “disabled.” Although others may disagree, Mairs reveals that the word “cripple” provides a neutral connotation that is appropriate to describe herself: a person with an illness. Later on in the text, Mairs reveals that “cripple” seems like a “clean word, straightforward, and precise” (line 15). It is evident that she does not feel the slightest offence of being called a cripple. Instead, she feels that it is the appropriate word that best describes her condition. At the same time, Mairs has strong attachments to “cripple” in relation to who she is as an individual with such difficulties.

Mairs’ use of tone creates a stern, serious, and confident attitude that reflects a prideful feeling of being a “cripple.” She says, “Mine is one of them. Whatever you call me, I remain crippled. But I don’t care what you call me, so long as it isn’t ‘differently abled’…” (line 36). Mair’s short sentences evoke a powerful tone that reflects her indifference towards society’s assumption of who she is: a weak,...
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