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“The Handicapped” By Randolph Bourne

Disability is in most social circles perceived as a hindrance to achievement. Disabled people are therefore from the onset viewed with prejudice and bias. This condition colors the way in which the handicapped person perceives his life mostly to his disadvantage. The false perception that disability is actually inability makes the disabled man not strive for anything since not much is expected from him/her hence he grows to expect little of himself. However, there are advantages that can emerge as a result of disability thus making the disabled person a credit to both himself and the society. This paper sets out to summarize the article “The Handicapped” by Randolph Bourne in a bid to highlight the author’s perception on disability. The ways in which the disabled person can effectively cope for greater productivity shall also be discussed.

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Throughout the article Bourne derives from personal encounters to best analyze the difficulties that handicapped people undergo due to the discrimination that the society subjects them to (1). The psychological implications that this encounters present are stated. The first major argument advanced is that major deformity may be better for the disabled person than slight disability that places the person within grasp of what may be seen as a “normal” life. This is because unlike the utterly disabled man from whom society does not expect much and therefore he somehow resigns himself to his fate, the slightly disabled man will try to compete with the un-disabled on the same platform and there he is bound to fail. This places a lot of pressure on the person who will see himself as a failure for failing to live up to the set standards.

The author presents his writing as a kind of crusade whereby he aims to introduce a form of new philosophy of human betterment through making men understand why they constantly wallow in misery and self pity and how they can work for a more glorious future (Bourne 1). As far as the disabled man is concerned, the author calls for the broadening of interests which will inevitably lead to the discovery of real interests through which the person will come across his true ambition in life thereby leading to a more satisfying existence. Bourne refrains from shedding light into the nature of his disability (1). This is in a bid to help the reader focus more on the problem of disability as a whole in the society as opposed to focusing on the author’s specific physical inability thus further highlighting Bourne’s role as a champion for the disabled man’s cause.

The article elaborates on the social injustices such as discrimination which the disabled person is subjected to. This is from an early age whereby he cannot compete favorably with his peers in childhood games and hence ends up being sidelined. In school, he is also unfavorably predisposed and is many a time at the mercies of his fellow men who may not be very charitable. Bourne acknowledges that the handicapped man feels the overbearing burden to succeed due to his disability and the discrimination he is subjected to however, this discrimination also acts as a great deterrence to achievement (1). This state can only be offset by strong self confidence. However, the confidence in the disabled man is also at a bare minimum since nobody else ever shows any confidence in the person.

The article articulates that help is needed for the disabled person to overcome the numerous hurdles that both he and the society place on him/her. He states that without some form of training, the disabled person is almost hopeless in his quest to exude some form of self-confidence and will power. This training will help the person achieve some level of self respect and enhance his will. Self fulfillment can also act as a motivation as is demonstrated by the author when he states that working to support his family created some pleasure and a sense of self respect for himself. However, only by “growing up” can the disabled person truly rid himself of the chains that disability imposes on him (Bourne 1). Growing up involves a change in perception and development of a greater understanding of human beings and the erasing of the fear of failure.

Bourne asserts that modern life is somewhat obsessed with the exterior at the expense of what is inside of a person (1). This leads to a scenario whereby one’s inner good is disregarded. The author sees individual personality as presenting the best way in which the disabled person can cope with his disability. Friendship which comes about as a result of this inner personality is one of the most meaningful things in a disabled person’s life. This is mostly due to the sensitivity of the deformed man which makes it possible for him to have deep and meaningful relationships with fellow man. This person lacks the charm or attractive personality which attracts people to others and hence the only way for him to make any friends is by them discovering his personality which lies deep inside. This leads to a fulfilling life both for the handicapped person and the people he relates to.

Works Cited

Bourne, Randolph. “The Handicapped” 2001. Web.

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StudyCorgi. "“The Handicapped” By Randolph Bourne." November 14, 2021.


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StudyCorgi. (2021) '“The Handicapped” By Randolph Bourne'. 14 November.

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