Nancy Mairs, who has multiple sclerosis, is very aware of her condition and her limitations. She blatantly chooses the word “cripple” in describing herself not so as to seem crude and bitter, but as she puts it, to be accurate and to better describe the truth of her existence. Nancy uses her tone and word choice which are important rhetorical features, to convey her feelings while offering an explanation for her use of the word “cripple” to describe herself.
In this passage there is a certain tone of seriousness, which can be interpreted as harshness to a certain degree based on the content of the piece. Just by opening with the phrase, “I am a cripple,” Nancy has already set a serious tone for the reader who by now is asking the questions how is she a cripple and why has she said this? The tone can be seen as being harsh just because of the first sentence of the passage. This is someone’s personal account of his or her own disease, so this phrase prepares the reader to engage in a serious article about a person’s life (disability). The tone is not necessarily a pleasant one considering the harshness of the word and the fact that Nancy knows how people will react to it. “Perhaps I want them to wince,” she says knowing what kind of feelings this word may provoke. While there is a serious or harsh tone to the passage there is also another tone of acceptance or maybe peace within because of this acceptance. “Honesty underlies my choice,” Nancy remarks which exemplifies the fact that she is not bitter at all about her situation/disease. She says the word “cripple” has an “honorable history” as if the word itself deserves praises for being so truthful in its description. She is blunt about who she is and the disease she has. “I like the accuracy with which it describes by condition.” She has lost the full use of her limbs; so to say that she is disabled or handicapped is not accurate especially since she states, “My God is not a Handicapper General.