Brent Staples And Nancy Mairs: The Power Of Words

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Brent Staples and Nancy Mairs: The Power of Words The two essays, “Black Men and Public Space”, by Brent Staples, and “On Being a Cripple”, by Nancy Mairs, both apply many characteristics and rhetorical devices to develop their main idea throughout their essays. Both essays have similarities and differences between their use of powerful diction, tone, employment of pathos, and their purpose. While they both cover these topics thoroughly well, Nancy Mairs is more successful in the presentation of her argument. In Brent Staples’ essay, he expresses his thoughts about the role prejudice plays in society and around the world by utilizing many rhetorical devices. His creative word choices, interchangeable tone,, and passionate …show more content…

Mairs claims “‘Cripple’ seems a clean cut word, straightforward and precise” choosing to call herself a cripple instead of other euphemisms, like handicapped or disabled (29). She says she might even want people to “wince” at the word cripple, because “people—crippled or not—wince at the word “cripple”, as they do not ‘handicapped’ or ‘disabled’” in order to show how other, more politically correct terms have made society weak (29). These words all give the impression that the word “cripple” has a strong meaning to her—she accepts it, but won’t let it define her. She then uses detailed words to describe her condition of “multiple sclerosis [which] is a chronic degenerative disease of the central nervous system…” (30). Her carefully chosen words she uses to explain her condition is not to get the reader to sympathize with her, but to have deeper sense of what she is going through, and what people like her go through. She also uses pathos effectively when she talks about how “you can’t always get what you want” and adds “particularly when you have MS” (37). By talking about a serious disease that she believes cannot be cured, it grips at the readers’ despairing emotions, causing the reader to feel a deeper connection with her. Mairs …show more content…

She grabs the attention of the audience by choosing to call herself a “cripple” to show she knows who she, is and is not afraid of it. Then, with her whimsical beginning of the essay, it allows the reader to relax and laugh along with her, and therefore understand what she is going through more deeply. On the other hand, Staples uses powerful language as well, but it completes a different purpose. It creates a dark, ominous feeling, which allows the reader to be placed in his shoes and see what he is feeling . In Mairs’ essay, her tone is bold and confident, whereas Staples is somewhat ironic and eerie in that he says “My first victim…” in order to shed light on the fact that he is nothing like what people make him out to be based on his race, and this kind of judgement still takes place in the world (188) . Staples also uses pathos as an appeal to the reader’s fearful emotions so they feel the distress that he lives with everyday that he will be mistaken for a burglar or worse. Fear plays a constant role in this essay. With Mairs’ essay, it is not fear, but hope. Nancy presents a more successful essay because her writing has more of an impact on how if one word changes meaning, it changes society in the process; crippled is no longer “politically correct”, now it is called disabled, or

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