The Censorship of to Kill a Mockingbird
How it works
There are a few select authors who have challenged the delusional comfort society has created. Harper Lee, the author of To Kill A Mockingbird, is no exception. The book discusses the story of Scout, a little girl growing up in Maycomb, Alabama. Her father is an attorney for a black man being wrongly accused of raping a white woman (“SparkNotes: To Kill a Mockingbird.”). Due to the discussion of racism and rape, many think that this book should be pulled from school libraries. Some believe that the contents are too mature for young readers. Lee discusses several topics that many try to hide away. In spite of this, To Kill A Mockingbird should not be banned simply to maintain comfort. Harper Lee was born on April 28 in 1926. She grew up in Monroeville, Alabama as the youngest of four children. Her father, Amasa Coleman Lee, was a lawyer and served as an Alabama state legislature from 1926 to 1938.
Lee was only six years old when the trials of Scottsboro boys were taking place (“Harper Lee Biography”). The Scottsboro boys were nine African-American teenage boys who were falsely accused of raping two white women on a train in 1931 (Editors). Lee was an avid reader and grew up to attend both the University of Alabama and Oxford. In 1960, Harper Lee published her first novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Within the first year, her book had been transferred to ten different languages and she had sold half a million copies. Her novel is now a classic taught in most public schools across America. Knowing this, it is easy to see how Lee’s childhood compares to that of Scout Finch, the protagonist of her novel. To Kill a Mockingbird is simply a rendition of Lee’s childhood and the world around her in that time (“Harper Lee Biography”).
How it works
One of the reasons Lee’s book was banned is because it was claimed to be inappropriate for children and made elder readers uncomfortable (Little). While the themes discussed can be intense for younger readers, all topics touched upon in To Kill a Mockingbird are still occurring in the world today. As previously stated, Lee was a child during the Scottsboro Trials (“Harper Lee Biography”). Her novel is simply a retelling of her childhood. While it is tragic that these things did happen and still do, younger audiences are going to learn all this one way or another. It is better to have it taught to them than to have them learn on their own. As it is said, knowledge is power. To say it is inappropriate for children is to say they do not deserve to know the history of the world they live in. To keep students from learning is to doom history to repeat itself, instead of moving forward and growing into something greater. In continuation, racism and sexual themes, including the accusation of rape, are also a driving force behind the ban of To Kill a Mockingbird (Little). However, Lee opened up the discussion for other authors such as Jay Asher.
His book Thirteen Reasons Why, student Clay Jensen “navigates the recent suicide of a classmate and the clues she left behind” (“SparkNotes: Thirteen Reasons Why.”). The book explores the topics of sexuality, reputation, and how fast rumors spread. Thirteen Reasons Why also makes readers uncomfortable, but these topics are important to bring into the light. These atrocities need to be changed, that cannot and will not happen if few are aware that they are happening. Authors dare to put these topics in their writings to spread awareness that racism and rape do happen. Victims feel more willing to speak out and seek justice. The students reading these book earn a sense of understanding that these things are wrong and should not happen. In result, those same students grow into enlightened adults, unafraid to talk about these hard subjects and battle against these wrongdoings. On the other hand, it is understandable why schools and parents feel that this book shouldn’t be in the reach of students.
The topics explored are mature, and they tend to make adult readers uncomfortable (Little). Regardless, racism and rape are not something that can be kept hidden forever. Although unfortunate, people of color still receive racial slurs and unequal treatment in some areas. Likewise, rape and false accusations of rape also are prevalent in the world today. Students need to be informed and taught that these things are wrong and how to deal with them. In the novel, Scout is a symbol of the innocence and goodness of children. With her, readers learn of the injustice African-Americans experienced in her childhood through the story of Tom Robinson.
As much as it teaches the younger readers, the book also opens the eyes of its older patrons. Hiding this from impressionable students only raises a generation of ignorance and keeps adults close-minded. To conclude, some of the themes expressed are more mature for younger readers and themes such as racism along with rape are not pleasant to discuss. Nonetheless, To Kill A Mockingbird should not be banned just to keep society comfortable. Harper Lee’s work is simply a retelling of what she witnessed firsthand as a child of only six. Although uncomfortable to converse about, racism and rape still exist across the globe. Students need to learn about these topics to keep them from reoccurring. To Kill A Mockingbird should not be banned from students so they can learn to be open and discuss hard topics, along with combat the rape and racism in culture today.