In Nancy Mair’s essay about being crippled, she uses rhetorical features such as tone, diction, and word choice to express her feelings towards her disability. These features also allow Mair to achieve her purpose of providing insight on her life as a “cripple”, while offering and explanation of the word.
Throughout Mair’s essay, she sets a certain tone of seriousness. Her seriousness, however, can be some what viewed as harshness to a certain level. As the reader explores the essay they would notice that she exhibits a variety of shifts in tone, reflecting the shifts in her feelings towards being a cripple. She begins the essay with “I am a cripple. I choose this word to name me.” (L.1). By starting the essay of with this statement, Mair already sets a serious and straight forward tone by her choice of words. In LL. 15-20, Mair explains views on the word cripple. Here her tone is more happy and upbeat, as she describes how she thinks the word is actually appropriate. She also says “I certainly do not like ‘handicapped’, which implies that I have deliberately been put to a disadvantage…” (LL. 22-24), Mair’s tone quickly returns to the seriously harsh one as in the first few lines of her essay. She expresses her views on how she doesn’t want to be viewed as less of a normal person just because of her multiple sclerosis. She also continues this harsh and serious tone in LL. 37-49, where she argues the misuse of language in world today. This non pleasant tone that is displayed through the entire essay is directly derived from the term “cripple”.
By reading a little more into the essay, Mair now has the reader asking why she would use this harsh word to express herself. The term “cripple” as Mair describes it “seems to me a clean word, straightforward and precise. It has an honorable history…” (LL. 15-17). She unashamedly chooses this word in describing herself not so as to seem crude and bitter, but as she puts it, to be accurate and to better...
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