A loss for words essay

Topics: Family, Deaf culture, Father Pages: 5 (1866 words) Published: October 22, 2013
For this assignment I chose to read A Loss for Words: A story of deafness in a family, by Lou Ann Walker. She recounts growing up hearing with two deaf parents. Once I started reading I was surprised to find that Walker grew up in Indiana! Her father is from Montpelier, her mother is from Greencastle, and the author came of age in Indianapolis. Lou Ann’s story begins as her parents are driving her to Harvard. She went to Ball State for her first two years, but decided it was not enough of a challenge. The reader also gets the sense that she is ready to become a little more independent. This first chapter really shows how heartbreaking it could be to have deaf parents. Lou Ann gets scared and lonely on her first night in her dorm (as many of us probably did) and walks to her parents’ hotel. She bangs on the door and slips a piece of paper into the room, but her parents don’t notice. She cannot communicate to her parents that she needs them and must go back to her room, uncomforted. The next section of the book gives some background information on Lou Ann’s parents. Her mother, Doris Jean, became deaf a little after she turned one. She had spinal meningitis, and it left her deaf. Doris Jean was taken to the Indiana State School for the Deaf when she was six years old. The worst part of this experience was that she thought she was being punished for something; she did not understand why her family didn’t want her anymore. Life at the school was a positive experience. She was finally able to communicate and make friends. The school did not want the students to sign, they were supposed to lip read and speak; however it seems like most of students signed anyways. After graduation Doris Jean moved into an apartment in Indianapolis and found a job. Lou Ann’s fathers name is Gale. He became deaf because of a high fever he had as an infant. Gale also has a deaf older brother, who was deaf at birth. Gale grew up on a farm and was able to be helpful and active. His family did not send him to the Indiana State School for the Deaf until he was in third grade because Gale’s father had a problem with the superintendent. He went to public school for two years, with little success. Once he transferred to the school for the deaf he did very well in school. He learned how to operate a linotype machine, which is used to print newspapers, and was able to find a job after graduation. Lou Ann has conflicted feelings about growing up with two deaf parents. She was the oldest of three girls, and they all signed fluently. Communication between the immediate family was not a problem. There was a lot of love and a lot of joking around. When you read the book you realize that this is a very normal, functional family. However there are negative issues that come up over and over again in the book. Most of these have to do with the outside world. Lou Ann is constantly worried about how other people react to her parents. They get stared at whenever they go out and some people are not very kind. When Lou Ann brings her mom to Parents’ Day at school the teacher is not respectful. Guests generally get to sit with the teacher at lunch, but Doris Jean is forced to squish in an empty space in the middle of a bench full of little girls. Gale applies to be part of the Masons fraternal order, but is denied solely because of his disability. When the extended family is supposed to meet at a fancy restaurant one family member decides they should eat at the Holiday Inn instead, so she won’t be embarrassed by Gale and Doris Jean. This family member doesn’t even end up coming. Lou Ann has to grow up very fast. She is basically responsible for dealing with the outside world for her parents. She writes their letters, she makes the phone calls, she orders for them at restaurants, and she talks to the people at the bank. Her parents don’t like having to ask her to do these things, but it is a necessity. Lou Ann feels a lot of...
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