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Paragraph 1:

Include article summary, description of both audiences and a thesis statement that

contrasts article’s effects on the two audiences

The main idea of Nancy Mairs’ “Disability” is that _____. The first audience consists of advertisers. The second audience consists of myself and others in the medical field. Mairs hopes to persuade advertisers to _____. In the process, she might also cause readers in the medical field to_____.

Paragraph 2:

Include topic sentence about article’s effect on FIRST AUDIENCE and detailed discussion of three quotations that illustrate that effect.

Mairs hopes to persuade advertisers to _____.

Mairs writes that, “_____” (par. X). [Follow with discussion of how the quotation might persuade advertisers.]

Later, she states that, “_____” (par. X).

Finally, Mairs says, “_____” (par. X).

Paragraph 3:

Include topic sentence about article’s effect on SECOND AUDIENCE and detailed discussion of three quotations that illustrate that effect.

Mairs might also cause readers in the medical field to _____.

Mairs writes that, “_____” (par. X). [Follow with discussion of how the quotation might affect readers in the medical field.]

Later, she states that, “_____” (par. X).

Finally, Mairs says, “_____” (par. X).

Paragraph 4:

Refer to a related personal experience, observation, or question that further supports/ clarifies/broadens your thesis.

I chose this article because _____.

Ready to begin your second essay? It’s called a

rhetorical analysis

. You will choose ONE of the three articles we read last week and contrast the ways it might affect two different audiences.

Assignment Outline

: Let’s jump right in to see how the four paragraphs work together to create your analysis.

Paragraph 1:

Begin with the summary

[stating just article title, author, and main idea in 1-2 sentences is fine]

of your article from Assignment 5. Next, describe both audiences. The

first audience is

the same audience that you listed for your article in Assignment 6. Your

second audience

is a group to which you belong. So this audience may consist of, for example, student-parents; reflective, empathetic readers; or tough, critical thinkers.

End this paragraph with a thesis statement that contrasts the article’s effects on your two audiences


Paragraph 2


Begin with a topic sentence that states the effect on the

first audience


Next, discuss each of the three quotations that best illustrate that effect. Here’s how:

State the quotation straight from the article. Use quotation marks and end the quotation with an in-text citation that states the paragraph of the quotation, like this (par. 4).

Restate the quotation in

your words

to show that you understand it.

[Read the quotation several times until you could explain it to someone. Write it in your own word. Then compare the quotation and your words. Do your words restate the quotation correctly and entirely WITHOUT using exact words from the quotation? If you DO use exact words, do you indicate them with quotation marks?]

Explain why this quotation might have this effect on the audience.

Is it the content, the word choice, or maybe a repeated idea? Does the author appeal to the audience’s logic, emotions, or values? What seems to be the author’s attitude toward the audience? How do you imagine the reader reacting to this quotation?

Paragraph 3:

Begin with a topic sentence that states the effect on the

second audience

. Next, discuss each of the three quotations that best illustrate that effect. You can discuss the same three quotations or different ones. Apply the same three steps as you applied to Paragraph 2.

[Paragraph 3 will be much longer than Paragraph 2, especially if you feel strongly about the essay you chose.]

“Disability” by Nancy Mairs
July 9, 1987
For months now I’ve been consciously searching for representations of myself in the media,
especially television. I know I’d recognize this self because of certain distinctive, though not
unique, features: I am a 43-year-old woman crippled by multiple sclerosis; although I can still
totter a short distance with the aid of a brace and a cane, more and more of the time I ride in a
wheelchair. Because of these devices and my peculiar gait, I’m easy to spot even in a crowd. So
when I tell you I haven’t noticed any woman like me on television, you can believe me.
Actually, last summer I did see a woman with multiple sclerosis portrayed on one of those
medical dramas that offer an illness-of-the-week like the daily special at your local diner. In fact,
that was the whole [story], this poor young woman had M.S. She was terribly upset
(understandably, I assure you) by the diagnosis, and her response was to plan a trip to Kenya
while she was still physically capable of making it, against the advice of the young, fit,
handsome doctor who had fallen in love with her. And she almost did make it. At least, she got
as far as a taxi to the airport, hotly pursued by the doctor. But at the last moment she succumbed
to his blandishments and fled the taxi into his manly protective embrace. No escape to Kenya for
this cripple.
Capitulation into the arms of a man who uses his medical powers to strip one of even the urge
toward independence is hardly the sort of representation I had in mind. But even if the situation
had been sensitively handled, according to the woman her right to her own adventures, it would
not have been what I’m looking for. Such a television show – as well as films like ”Duet for One”
and ”Children of a Lesser God” – in taking disability as the major premise, exclude the
complexities that round out a character and make her whole. The show was not about a woman
who happened to be physically disabled; it was about physical disability as the determining
factor of a woman’s existence.
Take it from me: physical disability looms pretty large in one’s life. But it doesn’t devour one
wholly. I’m not, for example, Ms. M.S., a walking, talking embodiment of a chronic incurable
degenerative disease. In most ways I’m just like every other woman of my age, nationality, and
socioeconomic background. I menstruate, so I have to buy tampons. I worry about smoker’s
breath, so I buy mouthwash. I smear my wrinkling skin with lotions. I put bleach in the washer
so my family’s undies won’t be dingy. I drive a car, talk on the telephone, get runs in my panty
hose, eat pizza. In most ways, that is, I’m the advertiser’s dream: Ms. Great American Consumer.
And yet the advertisers, who determine nowadays who will be represented publicly and who will
not, deny absolutely the existence of me and my kind.
I once asked a local advertiser why he didn’t include disabled people in his spots. His response
seemed direct enough. ”We don’t want to give people the idea that our product is just for the
handicapped,” he said. But tell me truly now, if you saw me pouring out puppy biscuits, would
you think these kibbles were only for the puppies of cripples? If you saw my blind niece ordering
a Coke, would you switch to Pepsi lest you be struck sightless? No, I think the advertiser’s
excuse masked a deeper and more anxious rationale: to depict disabled people in the ordinary
activities of daily life is to admit that there is something ordinary about disability itself, that it
might enter anybody’s life. If it is effaced completely or at least isolated as a separate ”problem,”
so that it remains at a safe distance from other human issues, then the viewer won’t feel
threatened by her or his own physical vulnerability.
This kind of effacement or isolation has painful, even dangerous consequences, however. For the
disabled person, these include self-degradation and a subtle kind of self-alienation not unlike that
experienced by other minorities. Socialized human beings love to conform, to study others and
then to mold themselves to the contours of those whose images, for good reasons or bad, they
come to love. Imagine a life in which feasible others – others you can hope to be like – don’t
exist. At the least you might conclude that there is something queer about you, something ugly or
foolish or shameful. In the extreme, you might feel as though you don’t exist, in any meaningful
social sense, at all. Everyone else is ”there,” sucking breath mints and splashing on cologne and
swigging wine coolers. You’re ”not there.” And if not there, nowhere. But this denial of disability
imperils even you who are able-bodied, and not just by shrinking your insight into the physically
and emotionally complex world you live in. Some disabled people call you Taps, or Temporarily
Able Persons. The fact is that ours is the only minority you can join involuntarily, without
warning, at any time. And if you live long enough, as you’re increasingly likely to do, you might
well join it. The transition will probably be difficult from a physical point of view no matter
what. But it will be a good bit easier psychologically if you are accustomed to seeing disability
as a normal characteristic, one that complicates but does not ruin human existence. Achieving
this integration, for disabled and able-bodied people alike, requires that we insert disability daily
into our field of vision: quietly, naturally, in the small and common scenes of our ordinary lives.
For the next several weeks, the Hers column will be written by Nancy Mairs, a poet and an
essayist who lives in Tucson, Ariz. Her book ”Plaintext” was issued in paperback this spring by
Harper & Row.
A version of this article appears in print on July 9, 1987, Section C, Page 2 of the National
edition with the headline: HERS. From https://www.nytimes.com/1987/07/09/garden/hers.html

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