Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

What's the norm

What's the norm

Sherry's picture


Usually the purpose for me to read a book is to approach a world that is different from what I live in or even what I can imagine. But this book would be very hard for me to understand if I just want to take a look at a story written by a transgender person with cerebral palsy, that shows me how complicated the society is from the author’s own experience and perspectives as a disabled and queer. Clare showed me the complexity including what a gender should be from a social and a cultural value, and his relationship with the words like “freak” and “redneck” that accompanied with him since he was born. Clare had taken a clear-cut stand at the beginning of chapter one: “I am not asking for pity. I am telling you about disability.”1 And then, I was pulled into a world that as I read more, it is harder to tell what really “norm” is.


The description of salmon part caused my attention since it seems like the author used a metaphor between people’s view of salmon and the disabled. As they view salmon only as “endlessly renewable commodities”2, it is like a parallel to their view of the disabled just as “disabled”. However, salmon were more than commodities. And for the author, “I use some, but not all, of these words to call out my pride…to place myself within community. Crip, queer, freak redneck burrowed into my body.”3 That was my first understanding of the “Pride” from the book title.Clare clarified that for him, homesick did not means nostalgia since the loneliness was come from the deep skin, blood and muscles but not soul. For him, “the loss of home is about being queer”.4 Until the part I have read, he tried to make a balance between “queer” and “no queer”. He acted a as a “normal” person in the “normal” society but live a way that “queers” live. Maybe just because every argument in the book was from Clare’s own personal experience, I cannot tell which side is really a “norm”. But I know after finish reading the whole book I may get a new understanding.



1. Page 7, line 5

2 Page 26, line 1

3 Page 12, line24

4 Page 35, line 18