Why ‘Mockingbird’ has been challenged
Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ may be considered a classic but that doesn’t mean everybody likes it.
Some literary critics over the years have argued that there is too little ambiguity in the characters for it to be considered really great. Initial reviews after the 1960 publication -- which marks its 50th anniversary Sunday -- were mixed; an August 1960 review by Phoebe Adams in The Atlantic Monthly called it “pleasant, undemanding reading” and “sugar-water served with humor.”
Meanwhile, the book ranks high on the American Library Association’s list of 100 most frequently challenged books; it was 40 from 1990-99, and then jumped to 21 from 2000-2009. The book’s racial slurs, profanity, and frank discussion of rape have driven the challenges, which are tallied when someone asks that a work be removed from in school curriculum or a library, thus seeking to restrict access to others.
The following is a list of challenges to the book over the years, citing the reasons. In some cases the result is not known but the library association considers any challenge important to document because censorship attempts can lead to voluntary censorship of expression by people who wish to avoid controversy.
Here is a history of challenges to the book as kept by the American Library Association:
*Eden Valley, Minnesota, 1977. Temporarily banned due to words "damn" and "whore lady" used in the novel.
*Vernon Verona Sherill School District in New York, 1980. Challenged as a "filthy, trashy novel."
*Warren Township Schools in Indiana, 1981. Challenged because the book does "psychological damage to the positive integration process" and "represents institutionalized racism under the guise of good literature." After unsuccessfully banning Lee’s novel, three black parents resigned from the township human relations advisory council.
*Waukegan School District in Illinois, 1984. Challenged because the novel uses a racial epithet.
*Park Hill Junior High School in Missouri, 1985. Challenged because the novel "contains profanity and racial slurs.
*Casa Grand Elementary School District in Arizona, 1985. Retained on a supplemental eighth grade reading list despite protests by black parents and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People who charged the book was unfit for junior high use.
*Santa Cruz schools in California, 1995. For racial themes.
*Southwood High School Library in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, 1995. Removed because the book’s language and content were deemed objectionable.
*Moss Point School District in Mississippi, 1969. Challenged because the novel contains a racial epithet.
*Lindale, Texas, Advanced Placement English reading list, 1996. Banned because the book "conflicted with the values of the community."
*Glynn County, Georgia, 2001. Challenged by school board member because of profanity. The novel was retained.
*Muskogee High School in Oklahoma, 2001. Returned to the freshman reading list despite complaints over the years from black students and parents about racial slurs in the text.
*Normal Community High Schools in Illinois, 2003. Challenged in sophomore literature class as being degrading to African Americans.
*Stanford Middle School in Durham, North Carolina, 2004. Challenged because the novel uses a racail epithet.
Follow my blog all day, every day by bookmarking washingtonpost.com/answersheet. And for admissions advice, college news and links to campus papers, please check out our Higher Education page at washingtonpost.com/higher-ed Bookmark it!
| July 11, 2010; 10:34 AM ET
Categories: Literature | Tags: banned books, challenged books, challenges to mockingbird, mockingbird, reviews of mockingbird, reviews of to kill a mockingbird, to kill a mockingbird
Save & Share: Previous: The story behind ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’
Next: ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ from $3.95 to $39,000
Posted by: jane100000 | July 11, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jscott28 | July 11, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jennypulczinski | July 11, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: bsallamack | July 11, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: didnik | July 11, 2010 10:15 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Cal_Lanier | July 12, 2010 12:54 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: sideswiththekids | July 12, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: bsallamack | July 12, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: sideswiththekids | July 12, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.