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message 1: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 3895 comments Mod
Literature has always been full of characters with disabilities and challenges because of disabilities.

How is disability represented in this text?
What happens to the character with the disability at the end? What do you think of that ending? What message does it seem to deliver, in an unspoken way, about disability?
What are some implications of those representations for individuals in the real world
To what 'extent did exclusionary practices in society contribute to—indeed, disable the individual—more than does that person’s impairment?


message 2: by Diane (last edited Dec 16, 2018 07:01AM) (new)

Diane | 1996 comments I read Animal's People by Indra Sinha.

How is disability represented in this text?

The main character is disabled due to an industrial accident in which toxic chemicals were released into the community. Both his parents died as a result of the disaster, leaving him an orphan. The exposure to the chemicals left his spine so twisted that he has to walk on all fours (hence the nickname "Animal"). He was raised by a nun who also has a disability - a form of aphasia in which she lost her ability to speak her two primary languages, also as a result of the disaster. Many of the residents in the community suffer from disabilities brought on by the disaster and thousands of people have died. The book is based on the real industrial disaster that occurred in Bhopal, India in the mid-80's.


What happens to the character with the disability at the end?

As a result of his disability, he is forced to live on the streets, getting food wherever he can, even if it means scavenging the trash. Some visiting journalists ask him questions about the disaster, but justice doesn't happen. Some activists enlist his help to spy on a local clinic. (view spoiler).


What do you think of that ending?

It is angering, especially knowing that this book is based on upon an event that really happened and continues to adversely effect the people who live there. The irresponsibility of the company and certain government agencies is inexcusable. In terms of his reaction to (view spoiler)


message 3: by Diane (new)

Diane | 1996 comments For my second book, I read House Mother Normal by B.S. Johnson.


How is disability represented in this text?

We see different perspectives of the residents in a nursing home during the same event in a typical day. The residents all have varying degrees of disabilities which either effect them physically or mentally. We get an insight into what they are thinking. Each narrative is told by a person with increasingly impaired function.


What happens to the character with the disability at the end?

Nothing happens to the residents with the disabilities since the book only covers a 20 minute point in time, However, (view spoiler)


What do you think of that ending? What message does it seem to deliver, in an unspoken way, about disability?

A little shocking. It just goes to show that nobody is truly normal, I guess. Not all disability is physically obvious.


message 4: by Gail (new)

Gail (gailifer) | 1237 comments I finished Animal's Peopleand found it to be a very compelling read.

How is disability represented in this text? What happens to the character with the disability at the end? What do you think of that ending? What message does it seem to deliver, in an unspoken way, about disability?

The main character and narrator is a person whose spine was twisted and whose mind was impacted by a horrendous industrial accident. Based on the worst industrial chemical accident of recorded history at Bhopal, India, the whole town in which the story takes place has been impacted in some way or another. Many of them have disabilities that are not perceptible at first glance such as lungs which can no longer support singing. (view spoiler)


What are some implications of those representations for individuals in the real world
To what 'extent did exclusionary practices in society contribute to—indeed, disable the individual—more than does that person’s impairment?

(view spoiler)

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message 5: by Kristel (last edited Dec 21, 2018 01:27PM) (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 3895 comments Mod
I read Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. This was a second read but since it was my school years, its so long ago it hardly counts.
How is disability represented in this text? The disabilities addressed here include a lot; Lennie the obvious by his intellectual disability but also old age, social economic disadvantage.

What happens to the character with the disability at the end?
(view spoiler)

What do you think of that ending? The ending was difficult because it was raw but it had a message of kindness as well.

What message does it seem to deliver, in an unspoken way, about disability? People with disabilities had it rough in the 30s. Lennie was actually probably one of the lucky ones because he wasn’t put into an institution but George maybe didn’t always handle things as well as he could have. Things are better now though there are still problems, years of social work and advocacy has made things much better for people with disabilities. Old age was also addressed and that is better after the depression years because retirement and health coverage became possible.

What are some implications of those representations for individuals in the real world. I think I may have addressed this above. I think things are better now. People are still fearful of people with disabilities and will try to avoid them or even be cruel to them.

To what 'extent did exclusionary practices in society contribute to—indeed, disable the individual—more than does that person’s impairment? Exclusionary is very obvious in the case of the black man who had no friends, no comraderie. If people who less afraid and more understanding of Lennie he might not have reacted in fear. I think, often disabled people are deprived of touch and the contact with soft and living things which almost all humans need.


message 6: by Gail (last edited Dec 29, 2018 07:00PM) (new)

Gail (gailifer) | 1237 comments For my second diversity book I read: The Birds by Tarjei Vesaas. This book is published in the US by Archipelago Books and is a beautiful object with rough edges on the pages and a very modern print on the front. It was translated from the Norwegian by Michael Barnes and Torbjorn Stoverud. The book's Main Character is Mattis who is also known as Simple Simon in his home district. The whole book is told from his point view and therefore the reader gets to experience a world limited by his intellectual capacity but nevertheless very rich in drama, hope and tragedy. He experiences things that his sister Hege is not able to experience such as the miracle of a woodcock changing direction and flying right over their house.
Mattis is not really capable of doing any of the jobs that the local population have for him. For example, he can weed turnips for little awhile but then he loses his place and starts picking turnips instead of weeds. He is therefore totally dependent on his sister for food, shelter, caring and friendship. Hege falls in love with the first man that comes by to rent a room from them and from there on out Mattis is confronted with what the world wants of him.

How is disability represented in this text?
What happens to the character with the disability at the end? What do you think of that ending?

Mattis is treated quite well by the other characters in the book but they come from the point of view of their own cleverness. They can not experience the world he experiences which is much full of danger and limitations.
What message does it seem to deliver, in an unspoken way, about disability?

In this way, Mattis is trapped and the population and his sister, all of who treat him rather well (a bit of mockery but not a lot) do not understand how they are confining him rather than helping him.

What are some implications of those representations for individuals in the real world
To what 'extent did exclusionary practices in society contribute to—indeed, disable the individual—more than does that person’s impairment?

In a small town in Norway, one can understand how the population would be both very accepting and also very unlikely to provide real assistance. In the end Mattis must bow to other forces that he experiences and which others can not.

Excellent book.
4.5 stars


message 7: by Hilde (new)

Hilde (hilded) | 342 comments I also read Fuglane/(The Birds) by Tarjei Vesaas this month. I have read it once before in my teens, but it left a much bigger impression on me now.

We meet the protagonist, Mattis, who is 37 and lives with his 3
year older sister Hege, who has cared for him since they lost their parents as young. Mattis probably has a light version of what we today knows as Autism or Asbergers, but at the time the book was written this was not a formal diagnosis. They live in a small place in Norway. We get the narrative through Mattis, and this is done brilliantly so that the reader is drawn into a slightly confused mind. But Mattis is also able to recognise difficult feelings both from the people around him, as well as within him.

Mattis knows himself that he is not as sharp as others, and he is very sensitive to this. He is also looking for answers and connections that are not so obvious to others, but somehow Veesas manages to make it somewhat understandable for the reader.

Strong and powerful book, that awakes many emotions.
4.5 stars.


message 8: by Diane (new)

Diane Zwang | 1206 comments Mod
The Birds by Targei Vesaas
4/5 stars

How is disability represented in this text? Mattis also called Simple Simon by the towns people seems to have some disability. He is cared for by his sister Hege.

What happens to the character with the disability at the end? Oh poor Mattis, he does not like change. When his sister finds someone to love Mattis becomes depressed with the change. He ultimately tries to kill himself.

What do you think of that ending? The ending was left with some hope that someone could rescue him but I was pretty sure he was going to drown.

What message does it seem to deliver, in an unspoken way, about disability? Hege and Jorgen were focused on Mattis ability to support himself financially but didn't really think about his emotional support. It was disappointing that the towns people made fun of him instead of helping him.

What are some implications of those representations for individuals in the real world. Through today's eyes, Mattis is very high functioning but he is not someone who could live by himself. He would have greatly benefited from a day program to keep him busy. Hege also would have benefited from a caregiver support group. But given the time period it was written, Hege just wanted to un-burden herself.

To what 'extent did exclusionary practices in society contribute to—indeed, disable the individual—more than does that person’s impairment? Mattis was given tasks he could not be successful at, he would have benefited from taking care of animals maybe. Finding something he was good at would have made him happy and less of a burden.


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