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The title of the image is ‘The newspaper vendor’. It is a photograph by Alice Austen, a prolific amateur photographer of New York Gilded Age Newspaper. Alice Austen lived between 1866 and 1952. She made thousands of photographs, images of automobiles and ships, bootblacks and police officers, beachgoers and organ grinders, cyclists and postmen among others. The above image appeared in the New York Gilded Age newspaper in 1896. It was later found in the New York public library online galleries (Richards, 2007).
The image shows a woman selling newspapers on the streets of New York. The woman is bundled up, wearing a hat and a coat. She has a long veil that is covering the lower parts of her body, specifically her legs and feet. She is crippled, which explains why she is covering her legs and feet. She is seated on a wheelchair that has thin, rare wheels, much like an old style bike. Looking keenly, one observes that the legs of the table in front of the woman have been raised on bricks what adds the space of the wheelchair under it. In the background, there is a horse ridden trolley, and behind the woman, there is a building seemingly a bank. It looks like the woman is sleeping or reading with her cheek resting on her hand (Ward, 2000).
The essay looks at the rhetoric arguments that are depicted by the above image. It will look at the validity of the information given on the image. The paper also focuses on how the image is representing the disability of the incapacitated person. It will show how the image portrays the crippled people according to the information given. It will also describe the attitude of the image towards the crippled people.
By looking at the photographer's comments about the crippled woman, the image clearly brings the whole picture and argument about the disability. The image portrays crippled people as ones who are unable to participate fully in community life. The picture is being referred to as the newspaper vendor. It shows that incapacitated people are never considered as integral and productive members of the society. The crippled people are never referred to as teachers, managers or as a part of the work force. This brings the impression that they are inferior members of the society who should be segregated. This is a fallacy, since the crippled people are not mentally challenged and, therefore, they can use their judgment to improve their life if they get sufficient attention and support.
From the image, the woman’s cheek is resting on her palm. This brings the notion that disabled people are lonely. The argument here is that, the crippled woman is an object of pity and sympathy. Loneliness is a product of isolation from the community, due to hopelessness, poverty and hardships of life (Vosey, 1975). The loneliness might be arising from the situation that there is no one who is fascinated with what she is selling. This makes her idle, and opts to sleep and wait for a merciful customer.
The crippled woman seats on a wheelchair which has thin, rare wheels, much like an old style bike. The depiction is that a poor person cannot manage a modern wheelchair. It must be impossible to her to buy a new one considering the fact that that she is a newspaper vendor. The poverty of the crippled people is further depicted in her miserable clothes: a hat and a coat. The attire seems inappropriate for a normal and a healthy person. The woman seems to be unwell and cannot afford more expensive clothes than this hat, coat and a blanket.
The bank is a sign of wealth. The woman sits closer to a baking building. Next to her there is a horse driven trolley. The rich merchants and the elites are the ones who ride the horses. This means that the premises are primarily a place of rich people, and that is why the woman is sitting here selling the newspaper to the rich bankers. This portrays crippled people as opportunists who are always striving to gain sympathy and pity from the elites.
The portrayal of the crippled people by the image is fallacious in this instance. Crippled people can do more than the blue collar jobs that are of low wages, associated with low people in the society. It is the legs that suffer impairment, but not their brain. This clearly indicates that they can significantly do just like unimpaired people. The use of derogatory words like crippled, disabled are depersonalized expressions. Such words and phrases cause offence, because they deny disabled people off their humanity and reduce them to objects.
The image has demonstrated an extremely negative attitude towards the crippled people. It has taken the position to patronize, and to discredit them and their intellectual capacity. The photographer has used the appearance of the impaired person to form bedrock in which to base his attitudes towards the cripples. Those assumptions are fundamental to discrimination and exploitation that disabled people face (Barnes, 1992).
In conclusion, the image is a complete representation of a crippled person taken from Alice Austen. The essay has given a deep scrutiny of the image and discussed the arguments behind the image. The portrayal of the crippled people from the image has been made clear to the audience. The audience should know that the visual rhetoric essay has not taken a position on the issue of the crippled, but it rather gives an objective analysis (Hoffman & Ford, 2010). The essay is just a bit of a broad research on the disability. Further research should be done, and measures to be taken to address the issue of stereotyping of the disabled people.