Someone who is crippled often receives pity and sympathy from others, but do cripples always want this? In this passage entitled “On Being a Cripple,” Nancy Mairs uses interesting word choice, repetition, and a sarcastic tone to touch upon a subject that most mature non-crippled Americans are not entirely comfortable with; using the so widely feared word “cripple” instead of the common “handicapped” or “disabled” to be polite or politically correct. Elaborating to a society, so infatuated with being politically correct, that using a word considered derogatory to most may be necessary according to exact definition is Mairs’s purpose in writing this passage.
From the very first sentence of her passage, Mairs’s use of the word “cripple”
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She uses the word, or a form of the word, “cripple” eight times in the three paragraphs of her essay and with every use it becomes increasingly less shocking. She does this because she wants the audience to see that with repetition comes acceptance. Mairs’s second to last use of the word comes in the second sentence of the last paragraph when she states “Whatever you call me, I remain crippled.” Because she used the word so many times previous to this statement, the audience now accepts and respects it as what she truly is. Therefore, her purpose has been achieved. Although her passage wraps around using the word “cripple,” she also very frequently talks about the words “handicapped” and “disabled.” Instead of talking about them in the way that society today would, she talks about how degrading they are. In her second paragraph she talks about how disabled and handicapped do not fit her condition according to exact definition. Her purpose in this is to get across the point that “cripple” is the only word with a true definition that fits her condition and is should not make individuals feel uncomfertable.
Nancy Mairs uses sarcasm and tolerant statements throughout her passage to develop a tone that keeps the audience comfortable with a problematic subject. In Mairs’s second paragraph, for example, she states “And I certainly don’t like “handicapped.” which implies that I have deliberately been put at a