Nancy Mairs: Cripple

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It is easy to look at an individual with a physical or mental disability and subconsciously devalue his or her existence. To express sympathy, society believes that it can justify its behavior by classifying these individuals with euphemisms such as “differently abled”. Nancy Mairs, however, is proud to be called a “cripple” as she demonstrates with her use of comparison and contrast, blunt diction, and confident tone, all of which explain why she truly believes that she falls under the “crippled” category.

Maris presents three distinct definitions of “disabled”, “handicapped”, and “crippled” and why she believes that she falls in the last. She advocates that the word “cripple” accurately describes her because it’s a “straightforward and precise” way of stating that she’s “lost the full use of limbs.” On the other hand, “disabled” alludes to “incapacity, physical or mental” and “handicapped” is defined as being “put at a disadvantage.” The distinction between the three words is crucial to Mairs’ presentation of herself as individuals have a tendency to categorize “disabled”, “handicapped”, and “crippled” under one brand of rejection. Mairs’ contrast between the three words assists in helping herself differentiate between who she presents herself as and who society assumes she is.

Ironically, as Mairs condemns society’s word choice of “differently abled,” she showcases her own diction that comes associated with pride in winning the “cripple” award. She wants people “to wince” when they see her because maybe they will “see [her] as a tough customer…who can face the brutal truth of her existence squarely”. This shows how Mairs does not care about how people judge the word “cripple”; it’s simple who she chooses to presents herself to be. Her paradoxical statement, “as a cripple, I swagger”, suggests that even though she has “lost the full use of [her] limbs,” she can still strut with more insolent air than most normal people can. Though she is a...
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