Female writer, Nancy Mairs, in her article, ‘On being cripple’, addresses the reasons that she insists to use cripple on herself. Mairs’ purpose is to enable more people to know the accuracy of ‘cripple’ and increase people’s acceptance of ‘cripple’. She adopts an ironic tone in order to make the reader aware of the difference between ‘cripple’ and other words like ‘disabled,’ and also reveals the inauthenticity of using a euphemism.
Mairs begins her article by conveying how she treats herself as a cripple instead of a disabled or handicapper.
She uses the short and simple statement ‘I am a cripple’ to open the article, which is straightforward. Such a short statement starts with a very direct and absolute way, which allows the reader to understand what she is going to say at the beginning of the article and to feel her determination to call herself ‘cripple’. Later in the first paragraph, she appeals to pathos by using the metaphor to describe herself as a tough customer who treated badly by the gods, fates, and viruses, but, she keeps to become confident, since she can face the truth bravely.
This part not only presents her as a cripple ‘ face the brutal way of her existence squarely”, but also use metaphor to let the reader feel her fearless. This kind of emotional incitement is more appealing to the reader and makes the reader feel it as well.
Mairs continues her article by claiming that ‘cripple’ is actually a precise word for her and euphemism blocks the authenticity to people by using an analogy.
To be more specific, she explains how ‘undeveloped’ can be euphemistically called ‘underdeveloped’, even ‘developing’ to illustrates the relation between ‘cripple’ and other words like ‘disabled’. She describes even if people call undeveloped countries to develop countries, countries will not become strong because of the euphemism, people will continue to starve to suggest that euphemism can’t change the truth and it’s meaningless to use such words to block the reality. Thus, she would no longer use other words except ‘cripple’ to herself because of the same reason. By using the analogy, it’s easier for her readers to understand the reasons she prefers ‘cripple’ since the example of ‘undeveloped’ and ‘developing’ is much more obvious to reveal that word accuracy is important. At the same time, it evokes readers’ further perception of ‘cripple’ and makes them realize more deeply that ‘cripple’ is more accurate and intuitive than ‘disabled’.
Mairs ends her article by setting an ironic tone to assert that she doesn’t assume that she is so different from others just because she gets diseases and further offers the reasons why she believes it’s foolish to use a euphemism. She appeals to ethos by citing the thesis of George to convince the readers that ‘differently-abled is pure verbal garbage’. Through mentioning the thesis of the famous English novelist, it’s more acceptable for the audiences to believe the presence of using the word ‘disabled’ or ‘handicapper’.
After that, she creates an ironic tone by the sentence ‘Society is no readier to accept crippledness than to accept death, war, sex, sweat, or wrinkles.’ This sentence reveals that modern people are able to face the worst thing in the world such as war and death directly, however, they refuse to accept the less bad thing like crippledness. Such tone can make the reader feel clear that modern people do not accept the word ‘crippled’ directly, and the contrast and irony can reflect the social situation more profoundly.
Base on what I have discussed above, Nancy Mairs conveys the reasons why she insists to choose ‘cripple’ for herself by appealing her audience to ethos, pathos and setting the ironic tone.
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