In 2017, the 7th most challenged book in the American Library Association was Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird (1960). In the book a white lawyer, Atticus Finch, defends a black man, Tom Robinson, after he has been accused of rape. In addition to rape, Harper Lee addresses domestic violence, incest, and racism. She uses extreme language that most would consider to be offensive and vulgar, which calls into question the appropriateness of the book for young readers. One common argument among the book’s challengers is that the content is too mature for a young audience; it exposes them to “adult-rated” material. Then there are those who believe that the book promotes stereotypes, which actually hinder race relations. Despite these claims, there are sources which argue that this book brings into light the injustices within our legal system. Though the content is mature, it cannot compare to what most teenagers are regularly exposed to through the internet.
To ban the book would deprive students from of the lessons of history, remove important opportunities for meaningful dialogue about critical issues in America today, and bring society to a censored enoviorment. Many people challenge to ban Lee’s book from schools saying that the book has inappropriate language and sexual content that is not suitable for certain age groups. “The top 4 reasons people challenge books are because they include sexually explicit content, offensive language, and violence”. Lee does in fact use the “n word” in her book quite often and its use upsets many people. Her reason for including the “n word” in her novel is valid because if she did not use the n word in her novel, it would have been a false representation of the way of life in the south during the 1960s, when racism was at its peak. Many also argue that the issue of rape is not a suitable topic for children to read about, yet kids in today’s society have access to the internet, which can let them read anything they want to. There are no restrictions on what they can read. Advancement in technology has made kids in our generation be exposed to topics like rape on social media or entertainment. Violence is also one of the top reasons why people challenge books. There is no need to shelter violence from our generation. Video Games like Fortnite or PUBG are played by millions of kids everyday, yet parents do not think that they need to shelter their kids from that. If parents will let their kids play video games where people’s goals are to kill other people, then there is no reason why they cannot let their children read a book that contains violence when they have already seen it many times on their electronic devices.
This book does not create racial stereotypes of people. “Every student who reads Lee’s book does not identify with Atticus or Scout, and teaching it as though they do, or they must, may reinforce the very stereotypes about black men and impoverished women that teaching the book is supposed to combat”. People who challenge this book argues that teachers who teach this book to teenagers force or make them agree with Atticus or Scout even if they don’t. 9th graders at Cherry Creek are mature enough to have and defend their opinions to teachers who may try to persuade them to think in the way of Atticus or Scout. Many teachers also know the importance of their boundaries when teaching literature that contains controversial topics. The stereotype of impoverished woman being liars and victims of abuse is not very valid. “ What did your father see in the window, the crime of rape or the best defense to it? Why didn’t you tell the truth, child, didn’t Bob Ewell beat you up?”. During the court case, Atticus brings to light that there is a large possibility that Mayella had been abused by her father, and made Mayella accuse Tom of rape to save his and her reputation. This is only one situation in the book. Many people’s point of views do not change after reading a book, especially freshman at Creek. They might think about a different perspective when hearing about a similar situation in the future, but certainly will not have a stereotype stuck in their head. Lee’s book helped bring to attention to the unfair and corrupt legal system of America in the 1960s. “It brought the ugly realities of discrimination, especially in the South, to international attention”.
A big reason the Civil Rights Movement was so successful is because of how much media attention they got. Lee’s book helped immensely with that. People all over America and even across the world could have been known to the cruel ways of the South and how corrupt the legal system was. With Lee’s book, many people saw the injustice and realized that change was needed and helped the Civil Movement which was very important. “Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “To the Negro in 1963, as to Atticus Finch, it had become obvious that nonviolence could symbolize the gold badge of heroism rather than the white feather of cowardice”(Source C). As said by MLK, the idea of people like Atticus who are white lawyers in the South actually trying their best to defend African Americans were people that had the most courage and were not afraid of the consequences because they knew it was their moral duty.
People in today’s society would rather ignore topics that are difficult to talk about instead of facing them. Trying to hide the horrible things that used to happen in America is not what society needs in order to progress forward. People must be reminded of mistakes made in the past and learn not to repeat again, or this cycle of cruelty and injustice will remain. Therefore, “To Kill A Mockingbird” should remain on the 9th grade curriculum because the future generation of society needs to be aware of what horrible things happened in the past to make sure it does not happen again.
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