Day of Disability

Until I spent two days like I was in a wheelchair did I understand just how difficult and inconvenient it was to get around campus. I have seen students in wheelchairs and had some in my classes, so I was surprised just how difficult it is to get places. For one, I tend to take the bus since it’s convenient; however, that’s where the first problem arises. The buses don’t have any wheelchair access, at least not the U and RU, so the bus is no longer an option. The next problem is actually getting into classes. Most of the wheelchair accessible entrances are not immediately seen. In fact, most are on the sides or back of buildings. This is true for both Howell and Bingham. But getting into Phillips is probably the most annoying. You can either go in through Chapman and take the bridge to Phillips and take the elevators or you can take the ramp that is hidden on the side of Phillips. Once through that door, you then have to take an elevator to get to the classrooms. Getting into Murray is probably the easiest since you can just enter through the doors and stay at the back of the room or take an elevator down to the first floor and get in that way. Although the doors at the top are not automated with a wheelchair button. Again, since I’m not actually in a wheelchair I don’t know if it is easy to open up a normal door, but I feel like it requires some finesse and wouldn’t be easy. That is why automated doors are the next big problem. While there might be entrances that don’t require stairs, some of the doors are not automated with a wheelchair accessible button. This is the biggest problem for Hinton James, in fact, you couldn’t live in Hinton James if you were in a wheelchair. First off, the only way to enter the building is to go around the side and use one of the doors to enter into the lobby and take the elevator up. But getting to the elevators requires going through at least two doors, none of which are automated. Finally, I wouldn’t even be able to use the bathroom since there is a step to enter the bathroom. Now, when it comes to eating, Chase is on the ground floor and no stairs are required. Lenoir isn’t that bad since there is an elevator in the back but it’s still not that convenient since you can only enter through the back. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen someone with a wheelchair in Chase or Lenoir and now that I’m aware of what actually is wheelchair accessible I can see why.

It just seems odd to me that a lot of buildings are either not accessible or have poor accessibility, considering I do see at least one person a day in a wheelchair. It makes getting to class more of a hassle and you really have to plan out your route. Only after looking at the disability map did I even realize that some buildings had elevators or ramps since I had never seen them before. Doing this opened my eyes to how the age of this campus makes it hard for much-needed innovations to be made. The fact that most of the campus is not accessible for people with disabilities shows that it’s not a priority to the campus, even though there are students that it affects. Especially in this day and age, it seems that a school would be conscious of how they affect their student’s ability to learn. I’m sure if everyone did this exercise some changes would be made; because otherwise, it is easy for people to ignore something when it doesn’t affect them personally.


Disabilities are restrictive and limiting. Entire elements of events can be missed depending on the impairment that is reality. In Ambrose Bierce’s Chicamagua, a little boy’s entire life is completely altered and he has no clue that any of it is going on until he stumbles upon his mother. Bierce does a fantastic job of portraying the boy as just a normal child, out playing by the river and interacting with animals.

When the boy sees the men, he hurries to the front of their weak and struggling pack to be their strong leader. Because of his age, he is naïve to the true nature of what is happening. Bierce managed to avoid identifying any impairment until the very end. The entire time, the child seems to be nothing more than a little boy who is enjoying “playing war” and leading his men. He laughs at them struggling along and compares their faces, covered in blood, to the clowns that he saw at the circus. He is missing a large part of the context that is going on. Perhaps his cluelessness would’ve been lessened if he had been able to hear the events that had occurred during his nap, but due to his deafness, there was no opportunity for this supplemental information.

The acknowledgement of his disability brought to light the reality of the situation. If he had the ability to hear, he would have heard the gunshots that had occurred right by him and, because he is a little boy, gone home to his mother. This might have led to him communicating to her what was occurring nearby and led to a decision to leave the area for safety purposes. Unfortunately, the reality of the war was unbeknownst to the boy, and thus he had no idea that there were any guns being fired. The discovery of his mother was completely unexpected – he was wandering toward the fire excitedly because it fascinated him. It seemed throughout the story that his major impairment was simply that he was a child and unaware of the harsh realities of the war, but the reveal of his physical impairment brought to light the true reason behind his naïve nature.

The outcome of his mother’s story causes me to wonder if he was in fact able to hear, if she might have survived. With that being considered, did his deafness and his disability evidently have the ultimate negative impact on those who loved him?

Jared Floyd – Post 4 A Day of Disability

“My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit as well as physically.” This quote was once proclaimed by the late Stephen Hawking who was diagnosed with ALS at an early age. Even though Hawking had a degenerative disease that caused physical impairments, he was still able to make a significant impact on the world and our knowledge of theoretical physics.  Within “Chickamauga: A Short Story”, Ambrose Bierce comments on the life of a person with disabilities in a war infused society. In addition, Ambrose Bierce utilizes this story to expose and refute society’s negative view of people with disabilities.

Throughout the story, the author hints that the main character has a disability; however, not till the end are the readers formally informed that the child is a deaf mute.  As seen in the first few sentences of the short story, a child is introduced into the story who has escaped his home and is wandering through the forest. The author’s syntax suggests that the boy’s adventure is one of the first times that he has ventured outside of the confines of his abode. Immediately, the imagination of the child takes over as he lives out the alternative reality that inhabits in his mind. At this point in the story, Ambrose Bierce reveals the need of positivity and imagination for people with disabilities to live a full and happy life due to the everyday hardships they may face.

As the story progresses, the boy’s character is constructed in a way that focuses on his childhood and not his disabilities. The invisibility of the boy’s disabilities demonstrates that people are not defined by their disabilities and can offer a significant impact on society. By revealing the disability at the end of the story, the readers blame the boy’s ignorant acts on his age such as when he tried to ride one of the injured soldiers like a horse. If the author would have disclosed the child’s disability in the beginning of the story, the readers would have made assumption that his disability caused his lack of responsibility and social differences. Ambrose Bierce intentionally does not reveal the disability of the child in order to expose societies innate negative view of people with disabilities.

Throughout history, people with disabilities have been seen as societal burdens; however, Bierce uses this story to demonstrate the importance of people with disabilities. By basing the story around a boy who is both mute and deaf, Bierce subtly illustrates that people with disabilities can be the foundation of people’s lives. In this story, when the child was lost, his mother is heartbroken not relieved that her son is gone. Whenever the boy leaves the home, he returns to find his mother dead and his house burned to the ground. This is symbolic to how the child was the foundation of his family and not merely the burden which society may claim. People with disabilities are humans who show an incredible amount of strength during difficult times. As a society, it is necessary to fight the urge to label people as “normal” or “different” because people with “differences” can be the foundation of many social structures.





Molly Cartwright


The dichotomy of portraying women as either angel or monster is present in many works of literature, including Snow White and Jane Eyre. This categorization of the female existence is a patriarchal means to exploit and silence women. In Jean Rhys’s The Wide Sargasso Sea, the supposedly monstrous woman comes in the form of the “mad woman” from Jane Eyre. Although Rhys’s novel portrays a woman as mentally unstable, it diverges from “Snow White” and Jane Eyre because it offers the “monster’s” side of the story and justifies her condition.

In the story of “Snow White”, women are portrayed as either pure or heinous to encourage patriarchal standards of women; the woman portrayed as monstrous even carried the word “evil” in her name. The Evil Queen is a devious woman who plots to kill Snow White out of jealousy for her beauty; she is assertive, and the primary instigator of action in the story. Matching up these traits with an evil woman encourages a patriarchal agenda. The untouched woman in this story is the passive, beautiful, complacent Snow White who lays dead in a coffin as an object of desire for the prince during the main plot to this story. This objectification of Snow White at once dehumanizes her body and glorifies it, thus encouraging women and girls who read this story to imitate this deadening of a vibrant life. The women who attune themselves to patriarchal standards are raised up as pure while those who do not conform to expectation set forth by a male-dominated culture are portrayed as evil.

In Jane Eyre, this angel and monster juxtaposition presents itself in the form of Jane and Bertha. Bertha is the “mad women in the attic”. She is fiery, passionate, and violent, and she is secretly Rochester’s wife. In contrast, Jane is calm, cool, and collected in regards to nearly everything. She is the replacement for a “failed” wife, a new and improved version who does not have outbursts or fits of madness. Jane was indeed progressive in her approaches to love and marriage, but her overall more feminine and favorable nature was what led Rochester to love her over his own wife. While Rochester did have a logical grievance about being tricked into marriage with Bertha, her madness is used as a silencing tool in this novel, rather than an attempt to bring visibility to women struggling with mental health. Bertha has no voice throughout the novel, and she is only allowed to communicate by making animal-like grunts. It is dehumanizing to obliterate this character’s voice, and oppressive to label her mad as the result. She is refused a chance to explain her “madness,” nor are any attempts to understand her made.

The Wide Sargasso Sea responds to the erased voice of the mad women in Jane Eyre by explaining the life of Bertha, whose given name was Antoinette. This novel shows how women are exploited through labels of madness while also sharing the voices of these women as a way to understand their madness. Jean Rhys describes Antoinette’s childhood that involved her brother’s death, the loss of her mother’s sanity, and the towns hatred towards her. These traumatic childhood events move her towards the symptoms of madness. The novel then hints that Rochester, her husband, seems to push her over the edge into full insanity. He becomes very distant to her after receiving hateful letters about her and doesn’t believe her explanations about the rumors he hears. He then sleeps with their servant right next to her while she could hear. He attempts to change her identity to be more English by calling her Bertha. Rochester even makes her despise the one thing she has ever truly loved: the island. He also traps her in his attic with the intention to make her miserable rather than divorcing. This novel shows the steps leading to Antoinette’s madness and even shows Rochester’s own madness. Rochester helped lead her into madness and exploited her for her money. Antoinette’s mother is another example of a women driven to madness and exploited with that label by men. Her mother warned her husband that they had to leave the island for their safety but he wouldn’t listen. This resulted in her parrot and son’s death. She became intensely heartbroken and lost. She was put into care for her mental instability and it is hinted that she is raped by her caretakers. This woman went mad with the help of men who didn’t listen and sexually assaulted her. This novel is unique because it gives the reader a look into the life of Bertha, a woman who was dismissed as crazy and denied a chance to justify her madness. It depicts the same portrayal of mad women seen in Snow White and Jane Eyre but it gives these “mad women” a voice to tell their stories. This voice revealed the injustices that drove them to madness.

Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea contains labeling of mad women as almost inhuman parallel to “Snow White” and Jane Eyre. Even as the Evil Queen in “Snow White” is given a voice, the only words she spits out are laced with hatred or beguilement. However, Rhys’s novel provides a full-bodied version of the oft-denied voice of this perceived other. A voice that tells a story about hardships and injustices practiced against them. A voice that explains that the very men dismissing them as mad are the ones responsible for their madness; Antoinette mourns the life lost to atrocities committed against her, and is still dismissed by her society. The women in “Snow White” and Jane Eyre are puppets in a patriarchal agenda to convince female readers that deviance from the norm will earn them no love, and both the pure and the monstrous are tools used to manipulate women, or are written by women manipulated by this oppression. Jean Rhys does not shy away from stripping the layers back off this abuse to reveal the imperfect insides that all women possess, the beauty that comes with being fully human and female.


Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. Peterborough, Ont: Broadview Press, 1999. Print.

Grant-Schaefer, G. A. (George Alfred), 1872-1939. “Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs : an Operetta in Three Acts, Based on Grimm Brothers’ Tale.” 1938: n. pag. Print.

Rhys, Jean, Judith L. Raiskin, and Charlotte Brontë. Wide Sargasso Sea. New York: W.W. Norton, 1999.