Reflection Paper on “Being a Cripple”

Reaction Essay “On Being a Cripple” Word choice plays an important role in this article, “On Being a Cripple”. This was a very descriptive article that went into much depth about this woman’s illness and how she faces the challenges it brings into her life. The creative word choice is very evident and she even describes why she chose such words. She explains what the word “cripple” means to her, not just a literal definition but in a greater sense. Most people would agree that the words “crippled”, “handicapped” and “disabled” all share similar meanings. However, according to Nancy Mairs they all carry a different significance. She chose to call herself “cripple” because it carries a straightforward and honest meaning. Unlike the definitions of “handicapped” and “disabled” she believes that people “wince at the word ‘cripple’”. She wants to be seen as a “tough customer” and a survivor consumer behaviour.
Her interpretations of other words and phrases are also very important to the tone of the article. Mairs talks a lot in her article about the “ideal” woman or “ideal” cripple, making comparisons to her life and theirs. She believes that the “ideal” woman is a great wife and mother, can cook, clean and still has time to exercise and keep trim. Not to mention, she is beautiful, young, and certainly not crippled. She compares this “ideal” woman to her life and sees the many flaws it has. She has a poor body image from the effects of her disease and is often driven to hate herself. However, as she has aged, she realizes that she hates the disease and not herself. She has learned to accept her life as a cripple and tries to make the best of it because she knows she can’t do anything about it. Mairs also talks about the “ideal” cripple. She believes that “cripples must bear their lot meekly and cheerfully”. She promised that if she was going to be crippled, she was going to do it well and without regret.
I think that the tone of the article is that of acceptance and humility….