Is a Picture Always Worth a Thousand Words

As I was reading sections from Eli Clare’s book Exile and Pride, I have taken note of his usage of words and how much he can evoke in such few words. After reading a few pages of his works it became painfully clear how much of an expert wordsmith he can be. One section that I will focus upon is the section entitled “II. A Supercrip Story”.

When Clare describes how society views disables people who have overcome struggles, and how the nondisabled world has become saturated with stories of the disabled person overcoming their struggles, and how they “enforce the superiority of the non disabled body and mind”, it paints a vivid picture, especially when he uses words meant to shame people with disabilities while talking about the second a disabled person accomplishes something the nondisabled world deems to be a challenge for them, they become a poster child for how to overcome the hardships in your life. His words become very clear with the repetition of the words “I mean” and “lack” on page 3, where the repetition creates a feeling of struggle and persistence to make ones voice heard, like butting into a conversation multiple times because no one is listening.

This becomes a foremost subject as he opens the last paragraph of this small section with his personal experience being the “supercrip” that the nondisabled population gawks at like an animal in the zoo. The repetitive usage of I in the first half of the paragraph where Clare describes his history with cross country in high school, where he would come in last and occasionally be lapped by the front runners in the race, compared to his repetitive usage of “them” as he describes the reactions that people had to his running, where he would be fawned over and treated as the bravest soul for even daring to step on the track, to even attempt to run. The egregious amount of pity shown to “the supercrip, tragic brave girl with CP, courageous cripple”. who simply wanted people to “PISS ON PITY”.

Clare’s clear craftiness with words is clearly shown in this section, painting so many vivid pictures with his words, that can not total over two thousand words. It clearly shows that in some cases, a picture can be worth significantly less than a thousand words depending on the author.  

One thought on “Is a Picture Always Worth a Thousand Words”

  1. I kind of get what you mean. You remind me that Clare really uses a lot of description of the views of nature in his writing and most of those descriptions are quite revealing. For example, how he describes the rural view and how he climbs up the rural trail, which might also imply his experience exploring his own identity in the rural environment. Also, the image of mountain, which appears in not only Clare’s book but also other poems we read before in the class, always means much more than mountain itself.

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