On Dumpster Diving and On Being a Cripple

18.06.2020 in Comparative Essays
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People do not ponder over the influence of definition essays on their perception of that or this notion. However, they should think it over because such essays can change the comprehension of some notions entirely. Two short stories, “On Dumpster Diving” by Lars Eighner and “On Being a Cripple” by Nancy Mairs are the illustrations of definition essays, which can deeply affect the readers and alter their apprehension of the words cripple and dumpster diving. Eighner’s essay is about dumpster diving. The author provides detailed instructions of diving and convinces the audience of its significance. Mairs’ short story is about a disabled person, the author herself, who prefers to call her cripple instead of disabled. After reading these two stories, comparing and contrasting their authors, purpose, and audience, I found out that two absolutely different essays might have the same hidden meaning – to change the readers’ views about some unpleasant notions.

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The main similarities between the authors are their intelligence, presence of defects, and accepting their situations. Both authors are well-educated people. It can be noticed by their manner of writing and word choice. Both Eighner and Mairs use sophisticated language and complicated words referring to ethos in order to make an appeal to the readers. In such a way, the authors persuade the readers in their credibility. For example, Eighner writes, “chocolate is often discarded only because it has become discolored as the cocoa-butter de-emulsified” (n.p.). Only highly educated people to know the word de-emulsified, and the author used this word to show his intelligence. Another similarity is the fact that the authors have some defects that make them different from the majority of people. For example, Mairs has multiple sclerosis and is considered cripple, while Eighner has to earn his living by dumpster diving. Many people perceive such individuals either negatively or suspiciously. In addition, the authors accept their difference, which is another similarity in the essays. Eighner claims that he likes dumpster diving and is not ashamed of it, while Mairs manages to have a good life as a cripple and does not want to change it. Thus, the authors have much in common, which makes two different essays seem similar.

At the same time, there are some differences between the authors such as living conditions, family status, and lifestyle. For example, Eighner is almost homeless and lives in a small apartment in Austin, while Mairs lives in a house with her family. Besides, Eighner has no family, and his only close creature is his dog, Lizbeth. On the contrary, Mairs has a husband and children who support her and help her live with her disease. Finally, the authors have completely different lifestyles. Mairs is socially engaged; she participates in different educational arrangements and travels from one place to another. Eighner prefers to stay at one place and continue scavenging. Despite these differences, the authors’ purposes have some similarities.

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The main similarities in the purpose of the two essays are their educational effect, demonstration of changes, and persuasiveness. First, Eighner and Mairs wanted to show the changes experienced by a normal functioning individual after becoming cripple or homeless. Then, both authors demonstrate that being different does not mean being disabled or dirty. At the same time, the writers show the inability of society to accept their defects. For example, Mairs writes: “Society is no readier to accept crippledness than to accept death, war, sweat, or wrinkles” (n.p.). Therefore, the purpose of the essays is similar.

Nevertheless, one can notice some dissimilarities in the purpose of two essays. For example, Mairs wanted to persuade the readers that being disabled does not mean that a person will lose family and friends. Eighner pointed out that dumpster divers are usually lonely. Moreover, Mairs aimed at convincing crippled people of their normality, while Eighner tried to persuade normal people of dumpster divers’ normality. In addition, Mairs purpose was to call all individuals with disabilities to live ordinary lives instead of being separated from society. On the contrary, Eighner tried to prove that becoming a dumpster diver is a good thing because such people fight against wastefulness. Therefore, the purposes of two essays have some dissimilarities.

The intended audience of the analyzed short stories is similar because it includes educated people, individuals with some defects, and the whole society. Mairs appealed to this audience in order to persuade it of changing the attitude towards disabled people, while Eighner tried to convince this audience of becoming more loyal to dumpster divers. In spite of this, some dissimilarities in the audience still exist.

The intended audience differs because of the diverse subjects of the essays. Mairs appealed to those people who could not work because of their health problems, while Eighner appealed to healthy individuals who just did not want or could not find a job. Besides, Mairs’ audience could be medical workers who work with crippled persons, while Eighner’s audiences were social workers who often banished scavengers from dumpsters. In addition, Mairs’ audiences were family members of disabled people, while Eighner appealed to the students who left garbage in school canteens and yards. Such difference makes the essays’ general message dissimilar.

To conclude, I can affirm that these two essays that seem absolutely dissimilar have the same message – to convince the audience of changing their attitudes towards people with some imperfections. Both authors are educated people who have some differences in their lifestyles and living conditions. Despite these differences, Eighner and Mairs appeal to a similar audience and have a related purpose – to make the readers think differently about a specific group of people. I think that these two essays are more similar because their hidden message is the same. I liked Mairs’ essay more because it stimulates people with health problems to act and live diverse lives. However, Eighner’s essay had a great effect on me because it made me think about dumpster divers and people’s wastefulness differently. After reading his essay, I have changed my mind about the things and products I throw out. 

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