Nancy Mairs is an author who is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. In this passage, she willingly labels herself as “crippled”: “I am a cripple. I choose this word to name me” (1-2). Her intentional choice of this word shows that she is confident and not embarrassed of what her physical condition is. She uses such a harsh word like “crippled” rather than “handicapped” because she wants to prevent the readers from having sympathy for her. She also uses it because she wants to be straightforward with what her condition is. Mairs prefers to portray herself as “crippled” rather than “handicapped” or “disabled” because she wants to be treated fairly and not with pity. The connotation of “crippled” is considered negative while “handicapped” has a more positive connotation. The word “handicap” is used to describe a person who is “crippled” but it has a more formal, sugar-coated tone. If the word “crippled” has a less positive connotation, then why would Nancy Mairs use it to describe herself? First, she says, “People—crippled or not—wince at the word ‘cripple,’ as they do not at ‘handicapped’ or ‘disabled.’ Perhaps I want them to wince. I want them to see me as a tough customer…” (8-10). Nancy Mairs wants people to know that she can handle her physical disability and that she has overcome the struggles of being “crippled”. Then she goes on saying, “Cripple seems to me as a clean word, straightforward and precise” (15-16). She is stating that she would rather call it like it is. She wants to be “straightforward and precise” with what her physical condition is like, instead of sugar-coating it. The connotation of “crippled” may seem harsh or rude to other people but to Nancy Mairs, it is just right. She stands by her diction of “crippled” and successfully illustrates that she is neither embarrassed nor ashamed of that word. Instead, Nancy Mairs...
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