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Deaf Lives in Contrast

Two Women's Stories

Mary V. Rivers and Dvora Shurman

Publication Year: 2008

Deaf Lives in Contrast: Two Women’s Stories might seem to bring together polar opposites in the broad range of deaf experience. Yet, as these narratives unfold, the reader will recognize that common threads run through them despite their different circumstances. Mary V. Rivers, who came from a “dirt poor” Cajun family in Louisiana, was only 17 when she married Bruce Rivers, a member of the U.S. Air Force during World War II. She bore three children in quick succession, all boys, and traveled with them to Europe with her husband. When her third son Clay was nearly two, however, she learned that he was deaf. From that time on, she devoted her life to securing a good education for Clay. Dvora Shurman’s parents, deaf Jewish immigrants from Russia, met in Chicago after World War I. Both were educated orally, declaring “I am not born deaf. Signing only for born-deaf.” They did sign, but they also wanted hearing children, stemming from their own sense of devaluation. Shurman lived a dual life in the deaf and hearing worlds. She saw herself as her deaf parents’ ears, their voice to the hearing world, and as sharing with her mother the task of being mother. The resonating theme that echoes with both of these women centers on their resentment of the treatment received by their deaf loved ones. Early in her life, Shurman adopted a slogan with her father, “‘It’s Not Fair,’ to rebel against the shaming, the demeaning, our family suffered.” After years of struggling for her son, Rivers asserts that “deaf people have a right to prove themselves as first class citizens.” Their uncommon stories reveal that they share more in common, a belief in equal rights for all, deaf and hearing.

Published by: Gallaudet University Press

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Silent World

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pp. 1-100

I remember clearly sitting in the doctor’s office and hearing her tell me that my little boy could not hear anything, that he was deaf. I also remember hearing her say that she could do nothing to help him. This was a great shock to me, and it made me very angry. How could she be so cruel, to interfere with the happy life my husband and three handsome little boys led? Monty was three, Darrell was ...

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Between Two Worlds

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pp. 101-236

I was part of my deaf parents, their ears, their voice to the hearing world, Mother and me sharing the task of being the mother. This book is a double helix, around the core of deafness and society, and my own duality in the deaf and hearing worlds. Elements wind together: • within the community of my deaf parents, • in the society of people who can hear, • and my split life inside and outside those worlds. ...


E-ISBN-13: 9781563684265
E-ISBN-10: 1563684268
Print-ISBN-13: 9781563683947
Print-ISBN-10: 1563683946

Page Count: 244
Illustrations: 30 photographs
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: Deaf Lives Series

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Deaf -- Family relationships -- United States -- Case studies.
  • Children of deaf parents -- Biography.
  • Deaf -- Family relationships -- Case studies.
  • Shurman, Dvora.
  • Rivers, Mary V.
  • Deaf parents -- United States -- Biography.
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