Thursday, October 13, 2022

Philip Carey's clubfoot and the anger of others in W. Somerset Maugham's "Of Human Bondage"

In W. Somerset Maugham's "Of Human Bondage" (1915), Philip Carey has a clubfoot. During his medical studies, a surgeon gives him an operation that reduces how visible his limp is. Mostly, other people do not comment on it, but Philip notices a pattern about when they do, as when his uncle the vicar, who raised him, lashes out at him: "Philip knew by now that whenever anyone was angry with him his first thought was to say something about his clubfoot. His estimate of the human race was determined by the fact that scarcely anyone failed to resist the temptation." Ableism first erases his condition, then highlights it to denigrate him. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 13 October 2022)

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