NY Times article: ‘My Brother’s Keeper (Assembly Required)’

The NY Times ran a column on August 22 in an ongoing series of columns entitled ‘Modern Love.’ This particular column was by a sister describing her brother with Down’s syndrome.

* Reflect on how her brother is described in the column. How is he described as spending his days? Think about what roles and activities are not mentioned: what are we also learning about John because of what he does not do, which most other people his age are doing? How do these different descriptions, even if largely unconscious, either counter or reinforce negative stereotypes about impaired people?

* Consider some of the language used in the column:

• burdens

• reluctant

• keeper

• educable

Down syndrome

• Lennie from Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men

• St. Joan (the author referring to a paid staff person)

• oversees

• tolerate

• surrogate mom (the author John’s sister referring to herself)

What sort of perception and treatment of John does such language invite?

* How does the author write about her mother, even if briefly, in the opening two paragraphs? What role(s) does she portray her mother in?

Posted on August 30, 2010 at 2:29 pm by MTumeinski · Permalink
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