Physical Appearance and Society

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Freshman (College 1st year) ・English ・MLA

Society has expectations and requirements of physical appearance and achievements that its members have to attain. Those that fail to reach the standards expected of them have a tendency to be described and referred to by disability as opposed to different attributes. The labels become their main definition with or without justification. Nonetheless, the skewed description can't be used to define a person based on a single attribute. In his story “The Mechanics of Being” Jerald Walker describes the lifestyles of his father focusing on his blindness. A fighter, achiever and cheerful man is reduced to a description of ignorance and faces all the challenges that come with the disability. Although he was blind from teenage years, Keller Walker worked hard amid the difficulties of a dysfunctional family to achieve economic and social wellbeing.

Keller Walker, a son of a drunkard and a mother who had passed on to cancer when he was only eight years old, was raised by his grandmother Alice. Mama Alice had various problems to deal with apart from caring for her grandson and when he got into an accident hitting his head hard on the floor; it did not occur to the boy that it was severe enough to trouble his grandmother. He ignored the injury and the pain that came with it including headaches and continued to live as ususal. However, the damage would later be declared an internal bleeding that caused lumps in the brain section that links with the eyes. The doctors reported that he would eventually become blind and die within one year. Mama Alice seemed to believe the doctors while Keller’s siblings cared little about his condition. The boy knew he had to survive despite being expelled from school upon the reason of his disability and other hardships he faced. Everyone else had despaired in him. While at the worst places, he made an effort to make something out of his life. Keller Walker married, he had a family, including the author of the story and step-siblings, and was able to work and earn a living to take care of his family. Indeed, his blindness did not deter him from doing all the things necessary to make sure that one trait of disability is not enough to describe a person.

Through the vivid descriptions of his father’s life from childhood to death, Jerald Walker shows the struggles of a disabled person. Rather than having empathy, the very people who should support the disabled become part of the disability. Keller Walker was expelled from school as a result of blindness while his siblings at home had little concern over the situation. His father was already out of boy’s life and the only person he acknowledged as help and hope sent him to juvenile prison so that he could die. For some time, Jerald’s father focused on blindness. This fixation only traumatized him, and to such extent that author’s father could not talk about it even several years later. Perhaps he did not want his family to revisit the story which he had already overcome. From this discovery, Jerald notes that there is more to his father’s life than his blindness that he decides to focus on, that there are all these other aspects he recalls that his father shared with him.

While it may seem like a one-sided struggle, the story by Jerald Walker is an indicator that the families of the disabled also face challenges. For instance, the author focuses on his father’s blindness indicating that it is an essential definition of Keller’s life. It is not until he re-evaluated his views when he realized that there were several attributes of his father he was omitting. His father had married his mother who was also blind and they managed to raise a family. He was hard working and able to educate all his children as well as buy himself a home and prepare for his retirement adequately.  He was cognizant of the fact he would lose some of his abilities, and when Keller Walker felt that he was already missing balance, he retired from teaching. This is an indicator that Keller Walker was aware of his disability and did not want to become a bother to his family. However, the description shows a man who strived to live a healthy life by knowing how to work around his disability. Jerald also mentions a funny situation when he was angry at his father who turned the moment into laughter.

Through the description of his father’s life intertwined with his own, Jerald Walker shows why one attribute cannot be used to define a person. Jerald’s father became blind as a teenager. He faced various challenges, expulsion from school and not concerned with his situation family. He managed to live through his problems, married and raised his children while working hard. He was not perfect but whatever mistakes he had made only served as indicators that he lived a normal life fighting each challenge beyond disability. The events of the story highlight that a person cannot be described using one attribute. I recommend this story to all college students to encourage anyone who is struggling with any disability, whether physical or emotional, not to concentrate on the negative aspects. It teaches the value of appreciating diversity and knowing that everyone has something to offer despite their weaknesses.

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