Banned Books Week Spotlight – Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Fliesby William Golding

Original publication date: 1954

This week is banned books week in the United States.  All week I will be highlighting banned, challenged, and censored books I own and have read.

Publisher description:

William Golding’s classic tale about a group of English schoolboys who are plane-wrecked on a deserted island is just as chilling and relevant today as when it was first published in 1954. At first, the stranded boys cooperate, attempting to gather food, make shelters, and maintain signal fires. Overseeing their efforts are Ralph, “the boy with fair hair,” and Piggy, Ralph’s chubby, wisdom-dispensing sidekick whose thick spectacles come in handy for lighting fires. Although Ralph tries to impose order and delegate responsibility, there are many in their number who would rather swim, play, or hunt the island’s wild pig population. Soon Ralph’s rules are being ignored or challenged outright. His fiercest antagonist is Jack, the redheaded leader of the pig hunters, who manages to lure away many of the boys to join his band of painted savages. The situation deteriorates as the trappings of civilization continue to fall away, until Ralph discovers that instead of being hunters, he and Piggy have become the hunted: “He forgot his words, his hunger and thirst, and became fear; hopeless fear on flying feet.” Golding’s gripping novel explores the boundary between human reason and animal instinct, all on the brutal playing field of adolescent competition. –Jennifer Hubert

Status: Repeatedly challenged in the United States (citation).

Reason for challenge in the U.S.: Like “To Kill a Mockingbird,” this one is a dozy.  Here’s the list: demoralizing because of implications that man is no more than an animal; excessive violence; profanity (“Sucks to your as-mar!”); racism; statements defamatory to women, minorities, the disabled, and God (citation).

My thoughts: I concede that “Lord of the Flies” is violent and demoralizing but, in my opinion, this is not handled in a gratuitous way.  Like “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Lord of the Flies” could be called dystopian.  This is a novel about the dangers of what we can become if we completely ignore the rules of society and civilization.  Whether you agree with Golding’s assessments of human nature or not, it is sure a good conversation starter.  We read this freshman year in high school and I would not consider it too violent and graphic for us, primarily because it isn’t just trash, it is literature, and we discussed it as literature, working through some of the difficult issues in the book with our teacher and as a class.

Your Turn: Have you read “Lord of the Flies”?  What do you think?  Do you think discussing different philosophies of human nature is educationally valuable?  Why or why not?

Buy this book on Amazon.

Check out my Banned Books Week Spotlights all week, every day at 2 pm Central through Saturday, Octobter 4th.

Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid South AfricaThe Grapes of WrathThe Handmaid’s TaleNative SonTo Kill a Mockingbird

Rebecca of The Book Lady’s Blog is doing Banned Books Week Spotlights as well, every morning at 9 am.  Check her out as well!

The Perks of Being a WallflowerAnd Tango Makes ThreeCatch-22 The GiverThe Things They CarriedThe Bluest EyeIt’s Perfectly Normal

Banned Books Week Spotlight – To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbirdby Harper Lee

Original publication date: 1960

This week is banned books week in the United States.  All week I will be highlighting banned, challenged, and censored books I own and have read.

Publisher description:

Lawyer Atticus Finch defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee’s classic, Puliter Prize-winning novel–a black man charged with the rape of a white woman. Through the eyes of Atticus’s children, Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with rich humor and unanswering honesty the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class in the Deep South of the 1930’s.

Status: Challenged and occasionally temporarily banned at libraries and high schools around the country (citation).

Reason for challenge in the U.S.: Wow, people really went to town on this one: vulgar language (because of the words ‘whore lady’), representing institutional racism (I don’t get it, did they deny this exists/existed?  Do they think TKAMB promotes institutional racism??), use of the word n*gg*r, racial themes, conflicting with the values of the community (get me out of that community!), profanity, racial slurs, being degrading to African Americans (citation).

My thoughts: It drives me crazy that a depiction of racism is challenged for racial themes.  READ THE BOOK, PEOPLE!  Clearly Atticus is dissatisfied with the status of race relations in his community, he is working to make a change.  It wouldn’t be dramatic that he is fighting racism if Lee didn’t include a realistic description of racism.  Like “The Grapes of Wrath,” this is one of my favorite books of all time (.doc), and one I re-read frequently.

Your Turn: Have you read “To Kill a Mockingbird”?  What do you think?  Does it accurately depict race relations in the South at the time of writing, or is it a racist novel?

Buy this book on Amazon.

Check out my Banned Books Week Spotlights all week, every day at 2 pm Central through Saturday, Octobter 4th.

Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid South AfricaThe Grapes of WrathThe Handmaid’s TaleNative SonIn Cold Blood

Rebecca of The Book Lady’s Blog is doing Banned Books Week Spotlights as well, every morning at 9 am.  Check her out as well!

The Perks of Being a WallflowerAnd Tango Makes ThreeCatch-22 The GiverThe Things They CarriedThe Bluest Eye

 

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Banned Books Week Spotlight – Native Son

Native Sonby Richard Wright

Original publication date: 1940

This week is banned books week in the United States.  All week I will be highlighting banned, challenged, and censored books I own and have read.

Publisher description:

Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Richard Wright’s novel is just as powerful today as when it was written — in its reflection of poverty and hopelessness, and what it means to be black in America.

Status:Challenged in the United States (citation).

Reason for challenge in the U.S.: Challenged by parents in both schools and libraries for profanity, sexual content, and violence (citation)

My thoughts: Hmm, I’m starting to see a trend here.  Gifted author writes gritty, realistic book about a person or persons dealing with political and/or economic oppression and/or systemic racism.  Parents complain about the violence, sex, and language that is what makes the book so realistic.  It makes me wonder if, at least some of the time, people are actually uncomfortable with these gritty depictions of oppression (even subconsciously) and complain about the language, sex, or violence as a way of dealing with it.

I enjoyed “Native Son,” if enjoyed is the right word, since it is a novel of hopelessness and violence.  It is remarkably well-written, and the reader can truly feel Bigger’s fear and his sensations of being trapped by his circumstances.  This is a book I heartily recommend for its depiction of race relations in the ‘non-segregated’ North in the early part of the 20th century.

Your Turn: Have you read “Native Son” or any of Wright’s other work?  What did you think?  What would it be like to feel as though you were so trapped by your circumstances that violence seems to be the only option?  What would it be like to know that others see you as less than human?

Buy this book on Amazon.

Check out my Banned Books Week Spotlights all week, every day at 2 pm Central through Saturday, Octobter 4th.

Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid South AfricaThe Grapes of WrathThe Handmaid’s Tale

Rebecca of The Book Lady’s Blog is doing Banned Books Week Spotlights as well, every morning at 9 am.  Check her out as well!

The Perks of Being a WallflowerAnd Tango Makes ThreeCatch-22 The Giver

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Banned Books Week Spotlight – The Handmaid’s Tale

 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Original publication date:1985

This week is banned books week in the United States.  All week I will be highlighting banned, challenged, and censored books I own and have read.

Publisher description:

In this multi-award-winning, bestselling novel, Margaret Atwood has created a stunning Orwellian vision of the near future. This is the story of Offred, one of the unfortunate “Handmaids” under the new social order who have only one purpose: to breed. In Gilead, where women are prohibited from holding jobs, reading, and forming friendships, Offred’s persistent memories of life in the “time before” and her will to survive are acts of rebellion. Provocative, startling, prophetic, and with Margaret Atwood’s devastating irony, wit, and acute perceptive powers in full force, The Handmaid’s Tale is at once a mordant satire and a dire warning.

Status: Challenged in the United States (citation: #37)

Reason for challenge in the U.S.: Parents complained about sexual and anti-religious content (citation).

My thoughts: I thought this was a brilliant book that achieved dystopian eeriness in a way not even 1984 managed.  You can see my full review here.

Your Turn: Have you read this or any other dystopian novels (1984, Fahrenheit 451, – both challenged as well, by the way- etc.)?  What is it about dystopian novels that seems to make them so prone to challege?  Do you object to sexual content in a book when it is making a social or political point?

Buy this book on Amazon.

Check out my Banned Books Week Spotlights all week, every day at 2 pm Central through Saturday, Octobter 4th.

Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa; The Grapes of Wrath

Rebecca of The Book Lady’s Blog is doing Banned Books Week Spotlights as well, every morning at 9 am.  Check her out as well!

The Perks of Being a WallflowerAnd Tango Makes ThreeCatch-22

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TSS 2: Banned Books Week Spotlight – The Grapes of Wrath

 

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Original publication date: 1939

This week is banned books week in the United States.  All week I will be highlighting banned, challenged, and censored books I own and have read.

Publisher description:

One of the greatest and most socially significant novels of the twentieth century, Steinbeck’s controversial masterpiece indelibly captured America during the Great Depression through the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads. Intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, tragic but ultimately stirring in its insistence on human dignity, The Grapes of Wrath (1939) is not only a landmark American novel, but it is as well an extraordinary moment in the history of our national conscience.

Status: Challenged in the U.S., including being burned by the East St. Louis, IL public library (1939) and barred from the Buffalo, NY public library (1939); publishers put on trial in Turkey for spreading propaganda (citation).

Reason for challenge in the U.S.: Reasons cited include profanity, taking the Lord’s name in vain, inappropriate sexual references, and the fact that an ex-minister recounts his sexual conquests (citation).

My thoughts: “The Grapes of Wrath” is one of my favorite books (.doc) of all time.  I have loved it ever since reading it in high school in what was my introduction to John Steinbeck.  Like “Kaffir Boy,” this is the story of a downtrodden and economically depressed people.  Although the ‘Okies’ didn’t suffer the same systemic abuse and racism as did Mark Mathabane and his family, they were definitely an economically and politically oppressed people.

Your Turn: Have you read “The Grapes of Wrath”?  What did you think about it?  Did the profanity make an impact on you (positive or negative)?  Did it work within the conext of the book or was it gratuitous?  Can you imagine having to pack up your entire life in a car and move half-way across the country to start over from scratch?

Buy this book on Amazon.

Check out my Banned Books Week Spotlights all week, every day at 2 pm Central through Saturday, Octobter 4th.

Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa

Rebecca of The Book Lady’s Blog is doing Banned Books Week Spotlights as well, every morning at 9 am.  Check her out as well!

The Perks of Being a Wallflower — And Tango Makes Three

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