Reading Response #1 – The Journey of Multiple Sclerosis

Christiana Stickel

Professor Rivkin-Fish and Professor Thrailkill

ANTH 272 / ENGL 264

25 January 2020

The Journey of Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis can be a positive journey, or so Nancy Mairs tells

her readers. In her illness narrative, Mairs describes living with Multiple

Sclerosis and its implications for her life. At the beginning of the narrative,

readers are impressed with her difficult life as evidenced by falls,

embarrassing moments, and progressively debilitating occurrences of her

Multiple Sclerosis. However, Mairs’ writing is a quest narrative in that she

conveys hope and self-discovery in the process of her illness. Examining

the second to last passage of her narrative, Mairs imparts her most

powerful message: “This gentleness is part of the reason that I’m not sorry

to be a cripple” (9). During this passage especially, the reader senses

feelings of gratefulness and contentment which seem incompatible with

her illness. Her feeling of gratefulness contributes to an overall theme of

courage and self-discovery. It is as if Mairs is telling her reader that yes, she

may have an illness, but no, she will not let it get the best of her.  Later

adding to this theme, Mairs says about Multiple Sclerosis, “I’m getting the

hang of it” (10). However, Mairs does not profess an easy life. She writes in

a way that conveys the cyclical frustration that she faces through

highlighting “a life wrenched by change and loss, change and loss” (9).

Additionally, Mairs views her illness as a way to help others. She seeks to

use her knowledge about her own suffering and feelings to reach others in

similar circumstances of suffering. This illness narrative is important for

people to read because it is incredibly inspiring. Mairs’ way of approaching

her illness convinces her readers to be courageous against any challenge

they face.

Works Cited:

Mairs, Nancy. “My Life as a Cripple.” Accessed 24 January 2020.