Franklin D. Roosevelt

According to the American Library Association, fourteen schools have challenged and three schools have removed this controversial novel and to this day the novel is still not approved by most school districts, and has been removed from most of the recommended reading lists schools provide to students. The dictionary defines controversial as giving rise or likely to give rise to public disagreement. The controversial novel that has been challenged by many schools and is included on the list of the Top Ten Most Banned Novels. Books are usually banned or challenged when the material is either considered “sexually explicit”, contains “offensive language”, or it is “unsuited to any age group”. There are many reasons why this novel should not be banned, such as history should be taught to the youth, the moral that there should be equal justice for humanity, and the novel isn’t only about race or racism. In the novel the narrator’s father teachers her and her brother many valuable lessons. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is an inspiring novel that teaches precious morals and values to students, and thus, should not be banned.

Harper Lee’s classic American novel should not be banned from schools because the novel addresses historical events and teaches valuable lessons of morality. For example, “the classroom is where the history, use and destructiveness of this language should be examined and discussed” (Selk and Balingit). This quote conveys the idea that even though the novel contains controversial history, the history should still be taught, including all the positives and all the negatives of history. This is also illustrated by “connects one with the past historical events and how they play out in today’s society” (Myrie). This quote displays that Harper Lee was trying to connect the historical events that happened in the past to the events that occur in today’s society. "Maycomb County had recently been told that it had nothing to fear but fear itself." (6) This statement references a quote from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s inaugural speech in March 1933, which also happens to be just a few months before Dill arrived in Maycomb for the first time. When Franklin D. Roosevelt said this, he was telling the American population that their fear would only make it worse for them and the country. Lee’s statement also reveals that the lessons that are taught to students in this novel are necessary because they will prevent later generations from repeating history. Lastly, “without access to books…with vital messages like…To Kill a Mockingbird, our country and our citizens will be destined to repeat the same mistakes over and over” (Tomer). This means that if books with important themes are constantly being challenged or banned, then history might repeat itself. If students will not be taught what happened in the past, then they will not learn from history and therefore they may repeat history. They also will not have been able to learn from the mistakes made in the past because they wouldn’t know about them. All of the examples shown support the idea why, To Kill a Mockingbird should not be banned because it teaches history and the novel also teaches students valuable morals.

Lee’s novel conveys ideas such as there should be equal justice for all of humanity and that everyone should have the freedom of speech. For example, “readers responded emotionally and intellectually to a literary work that advocated equal justice for all humanity” (Prevost). This quote conveys the idea that some readers felt that the novel was trying to advocate equality and equal justice for all of humanity. “I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks.” (304). This statement by Lee reveals that Atticus, the father of the narrator, tried to teach his children that everyone should be treated equal because everyone is the same, they are all just folks, which is represented through his daughter Scout. In addition, “In banning the books, which the board described as anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, and just plain filthy, the board acted contrary to the advice of the superintendent, parents, and a committee created to study the issue” (Taylor). This means that if one were to take away the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, they would be going against the advice of the opinion of educated people who know a significant amount about the topic. Banning the novel violates “the right to speak under the First Amendment of the Constitution.” (Taylor). This means that if one bans a novel for people to read, that is violating the First Amendment. "You aren't really a n-word lover, then, are you?" (144). Some libraries and schools want to ban the novel because of the use of such language. However, since the First Amendment gives everyone the freedom of speech and the freedom of press Harper Lee’s novel is protected. These examples from both the novel and the articles both fortifies the argument that, To Kill a Mockingbird shouldn’t be banned because of the quality values that are displayed in the novel and it also should not be prohibited because every American citizen, including Lee is entitled to free speech. Therefore, it would be unconstitutional if the novel was banned from schools, libraries, and book stores.

Most readers think that, To Kill a Mockingbird is all about racism and race but it is about much more than that. Harper Lee uses outside components to make the novel less about race and racism. For example, the “trial itself occupies only fifteen percent of the novel.” (Baecker). This quote suggests that the other eighty-five percent of the novel does not concern the trial, therefore one shouldn’t ban a novel with eighty-five percent of the novel that has no racism involved. In addition, “the presence of a child narrator and society’s regulation of each to children’s literature seems to have made these books less about race” (Baeker).This quote argues that since a child is narrating the story, the novel is less about race because a child’s innocence makes the novel less about race and more about people. Lee tries to tell a story about a historic event, the trial, but she tells it through the eyes of a child who doesn’t see color and who believes everyone should be treated equally. “Lee has constructed the novel so as to compress the issue of race into a tightly constrained portion of the book, bounded on either side by tales of Boo” (Baecker). This statement demonstrates that the novel doesn’t solely focus on racism because also in the novel, there are stories and tales about Boo Radley that are being told. The Baecker article argues that a novel shouldn’t be banned if only fifteen percent of the novel is controversial. Also the child narrator made the novel focus less on race. Lastly, the book even has the issue of race in between all of the tales and stories about Boo. "The world's ending, Atticus!  Please do something" (64). The narrator, Scout said this to her father, Atticus, when it was snowing outside. This shows that Scout was so young and innocent that she didn’t know what snow was. She was also innocent enough that she didn’t even see color in people. Another example from the novel was, "He was still leaning against the wall… His face was as white as his hands… His cheeks were thin to hollowness; his mouth was wide; … and his gray eyes were so colorless I thought he was I gazed at him in wonder the tension slowly drained from his face. His lips parted into a timid smile, and our neighbor's image blurred with my sudden tears." (270) This quote represents the moment when Scout began to understand Boo Radley and she started to accept him as a neighbor and as a friend, instead of a as a neighborhood legend, who was scary. This took place after Boo saved her and her brother’s life. The quotes from both the novel and the article show that Harper Lee wasn’t trying to make her novel all about racism, she wanted to make a story about an event that happened in our history, but with a twist. She wanted to use a child narrator to show how it looked through the eyes of a child who doesn’t see color and has the innocence of a child. Lee also added stories about the neighborhood legend who the kids loved to talk about, and he ended up saving their lives from a man upset at Atticus. Since the novel has a child narrator the book becomes less controversial because she doesn’t see colors and she believes that everyone should be treated equally. This moral is taught throughout the novel.

The classic American novel by Harper Lee is not loved by all. Opponents believe that the novel should be banned from schools and libraries because of its racial subject matter. Some people who believe that the novel should be banned argue that the novel has an “unfavorable presentations of blacks” (Watkin). This exemplifies that the words in the novel makes a poor presentation towards black and the novel also uses negative words about black people, that are displayed in the novel. Another example is, “inappropriate subject matter (an alleged rape) … references to sex” (Watkin). This means that some of the many themes that are displayed express adult themes and it has inappropriate actions. When Scout asks Atticus what rape is he says, “rape was carnal knowledge of a female by force and without consent.”. This sexually explicit content is why some people don’t want to have this novel in some schools and libraries. Another common counterpoint is that there is a lot of profanity that is displayed in the novel. Those who believe that there is too much profanity in the novel say that, “the material contains offensive language” (Stallings). This quote claims that, To Kill a Mockingbird contains profanity, racial slurs, and as well as racial epithets. This is an understandable concern, however students need to know how defective history was and how people were treated, what they were called. Another example from Harper Lee is that, “I seen that black n-word yonder ruttin' on my Mayella!” (231). This profanity leads some people to argue that students should not read the novel despite its good and valuable lessons. Even though there are reasons why, To Kill a Mockingbird could be considered offensive, none of them come close to outweigh the significant reasons why, To Kill a Mockingbird should be taught and read by all students in the United States.

The novel also provides readers with the evils about history, but in the novel there are valuable lessons of morality that need to be taught to students. The history that is taught in the novel as well as the belief that all of humanity is equal, which makes the novel very important in a student’s curriculum. To Kill a Mockingbird must not be banned because people need to open their eyes to the truth, and see that there is evil all around us. Harper Lee presents this through the eyes of a little girl and teaches us how to respond to that evil. The act of killing a mockingbird is wrong because they don’t do any harm to us, they just share their music with us. For one to ban, To Kill a Mockingbird it would be wrong because it doesn’t harm anyone, it simply opens up everyone’s eyes to truths.

Works Cited

Baecker, Diann L. "Telling It in Black and White: The Importance of the Africanist Presence in

To Kill a Mockingbird." Critical Insights: To Kill a Mockingbird, edited by Don Noble, Salem, 2009. Salem Online.

Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. New York :Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2006. Print.

Myrie, Evelyn (2002, May 13). Banning books won't solve social ills; 'we can't afford to shy

away from issues simply because they make us feel uncomfortable'. The Spectator Retrieved from accountid=10235

Prevost, Verbie Lovorn. "To Kill a Mockingbird." The 1960s in America, edited by Carl

Singleton, Salem, 1999. Salem Online.

Rivedal, Karen (2018, Jan 25). REQUEST TO BAN HARPER LEE BOOK FROM

CLASS.Wisconsin State Journal Retrieved from

Selk, Avi and Banlingit, Moriah. "A school drops ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and ‘Huckleberry

Finn’ over use of the n-word." The Washington Post 7 Feb. 2018: Web. 8 Mar 2018.

Stallings, Melissa. "Banned Books Week." Issues: Understanding Controversy and

Society, ABC-CLIO, 2018, Accessed 8 Mar. 2018.

Taylor, Bonnie B. "Censorship of School Library Books." Issues: Understanding Controversy

and Society, ABC-CLIO, 2018, Accessed 8 Mar. 2018.

Tomer, Will (2017, Nov 10). OPINION: Banning books deprives students of complex

discussion. TCA Regional News Retrieved from

Watkin, Amy. “How to Write about To Kill a Mockingbird.” Bloom's How to Write about

Harper Lee, Chelsea House, 2017. Bloom's Literature, Accessed 8 Mar. 2018.