You are on page 1of 9




Abby Jolivette
In the words of Harper Lee, You never really understand a person until you consider
things from his point of viewUntil you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it (Lee
1960). To Kill a Mockingbird, written by Harper Lee in 1960, was immediately successful and
won many awards throughout the years, including the Pulitzer Prize. Her thought provoking
words and actions from her characters have been impacting many students lives throughout the
years. However, many years later this classic novel was banned from multiple schools in
America for various reasons. Throughout this paper I will discuss the controversial reasons
behind why it is banned, the educational value of having it allowed in a classroom, and the
situations occurring during the time period of which this book was set.
Establish Credit
I am writing about this book for many reasons. In middle school and high school, the
book was required to be read and researched. While in high school, I was also able to watch a
live production of this classic novel. I am also majoring in elementary education, and childrens
literature is critical to the curriculum now. I know in the future I am likely to come across books
that have great educational benefits, but are banned in certain schools. This situation is occurring
more often, and the simple discussion of such books has become more sensitive in areas around
race, gender, and discrimination. I hope to acquire a variety of books that will educate my
students, including To Kill a Mockingbird. I am choosing to write about the banning of this
novel because of the research I have done, my future career, and the experience I have had.
Demonstrate fairness



Many parents think that To Kill a Mockingbird, should not be allowed in schools.
Advocates believe the use of profanity, racial terms, and sexual content is not appropriate for
students. Many schools like Eden Valley, (CITE) Minnesota removed the book from their
reading lists because of the inappropriate language. Schools in Lindale, Texas banned it because
it conflicted with the values of the community. (CITATION) Although the book shares
information about historical moments in America and gives insight to many controversial issues,
many believe that this novel is degrading to African Americans because of the attitude and tone
of the novel. The use of vulgar language, racial slang, and sexual content in To Kill a
Mockingbird have been the reasonings for banning in many schools across the nation.
State your claim
This novel includes inappropriate aspects, but the overall message of the novel is why it
should be allowed in schools. The youthful tone told from the narrator is hopeful and light, and
it gives the readers a glimpse into how children felt during this time period. It discusses issues
that still affect us today and are important events in our history. To Kill a Mockingbird should
not be banned in schools across the nation because it is an important novel for children to read,
and it helps them become aware of the social issues that occurred during th setting.



Literature Review
Introduce subtopics, no citations required
The banning of To Kill a Mockingbird has caused many arguments throughout the years.
Some advocates of the banning believe it was written for adults rather than children, and they
also believe it contains too much profanity and racial slang. On the other hand, many teachers,
parents, and fans of the book believe it holds a value in classrooms, both historically and
educationally. The situations occurring during the time period of this book have a share in
educating the readers on Americas civil rights history. Many parents, and readers of the book
are highly critical of the books message, and others support the value of the novel. CLINCHER
Reasons why it was banned. In the beginning of Lees career, she had great success.
She won awards such as the Pulitzer Prize, and she was recognized for her intellectual thought
and writing in her book To Kill a Mockingbird. As Gladwell says, here is where the criticism of
Finch begins, because the hearts-and-minds approach is about accommodation, not reform.
(2009). Through her success, came criticism. To Kill a Mockingbird was among those opposed
specifically because it depicted minority group people, in ways that constituted a vigorous
protest against racism. (Books that Inspire, Books that Offend.) The criticisms of her book
arrived over time and for a variety of reasons. Scanlan addresses, The reasons vary from
objections to race, to the racial epithets, to immoral issues. Bannings have continued within the



past year or so in locations as disparate as Canada and Texas for reasons just as diverse. (50
years of To Kill a Mockingbird). Murray states that the book was banned due to insistence on
the themes of racism, sexism, and the coming of age typology of the novel. (More than One
Way to (mis)read To Kill a Mockingbird). The book is said to Dehumanize the African
American child. (Books that Inspire, Books that Offend.) Majority of the oppositions to the
book come from parents of children in schools. The process schools use to respond to parental
or community complaints usually determines the outcome of a challenge more than the contents
of the book. (Banned Books) Some statistics regarding the subject of banned books include,
Seven out of ten Americans expect librarians to prevent children from borrowing materials that
are inappropriate for their age. (Intellectual freedom) Strothmann and Van Fleet came to the
conclusions,this is the power of booksa power that some societies fear and, consequently,
they seek to restrain access to books and the ability to read. We are fortunate to live in a society
that recognizes and appreciates the value of books and reading. (Books that inspire, books that
Why it shouldnt be banned/ value of having it in a classroom. Although there are
many opposing the book, there are also a number of supporters. Some of the main themes of this
novel include values of dignity, courage, racial equality, and common humanity (Books that
Inspire, Books that Offend). Enthusiasts also say, other classic themesare courage, justice,
and family, the outsider of symbols in Literature. (Mockingbird still singing). Along with those
themes comes the overall message of hope, encouragement, strength, independence, intellectual
growth, and personal improvement. (Books that Inspire, Books that Offend) The supporters of
the novel believe one reason it is important to have in classrooms is because it is narrated from a



childs perspective. The tone of innocence throughout the whole book showcases the child-like
hope. Most people are [real nice] when you finally see them, which is the last line but three of
the whole book. (H.L. Loving-Kindness). Because of the childlike point of view, The thing
about To Kill a Mockingbird is that its still alive. Its not moldering in the vaults. Its been seen
constantly by young people who discuss it with their parents, who in turn are familiar with it. It
has a continuing life. (Mockingbird still singing) The narrative voice of the book is artfully
contrived to be that both of an adult looking back on her childhood and of the child herself.
(H.L. Loving kindness). The narrator and main character is little Scout, and its Scout who
makes the journeyfrom prejudice to tolerance, from ignorance to wisdom, from violence to
self-control, from bigotry to empathy from a code of honor to a code of law. (More than one
way.) The book shows her growing up, both physically and emotionally. The sins of society
are revealed through the eyes of a young, somewhat innocent character who comments on the
absurdity of individuals and society. (Mockingbird still singing)

To Kill a Mockingbird, for

all its considerate virtuesencourages us by identifying with her so strongly to bathe in

pleasantly warm wafers of our own generosity of spirit and our self regard. Perhaps, that is part
of the reason, though only apart, for its enduring popularity. (H.L. loving kindness)
Situations occurring during setting of book. This book was set in an important time
period of American history. In 1960, when To Kill a Mockingbird was published, much of white
America viewed the coming together of the races as immoral, dangerous, even ungodly. (How
to kill a mockingbird reflects..)

Along with racial inequality all around, Lee placed the

story squarely in the Depression era, the 1930s, asking novel readers of the early 1960s to
consider the tightly bound relationship between race and class inequality in America. (View



from the Porch) Because Lee grew up in the south, during this time period, she was able to recall
the feelings and emotions she experienced. At the time, The idea that someone like Lee would
represent a black is by no means abnormal or unusual, though not typical. (How to Kill a
Mockingbird Reflects) Americans were divided in many ways, such as the division of
worship along racial lines, the geographical distancing of the black community from the white
population of Maycomb, relegating to its outer limits past the city dump, and the prevalent use of
racial slurs such as a nigger-lover (more than one way to) Rape was one of the biggest
issues during this time period. According to Gladwell, 288 cases of black-on-white rape that
occured in Virginia between 1900 and 1960. Seventeen of the accused were killed through
extralegal violence. 50 were executed. 48 were given max sentence. 52 were sentenced to
prison terms of 5 years or less. On charges ranging form rape and murdur to robbery, assault and
battery, or annoying a white woman. (the courthouse ring) Rape was the central drama of the
white psyche. (HTKAMB reflects) Reflecting back on her childhood, Lee could recall
specific events that helped influence her writing. November 1933, a poor white woman
claimed that a black man had raped her. To say these stories came home in the Lees household
is to state the obvious. (Htkamb reflects) Her father was a lawyer, so she grew up over
hearing such stories. People all around her were fighting and disagreeing. Characters like
fictional Atticus Finch and real life people throughout the south were suddenly agitated with in
the strictures of society. (Htkmb reflects) Because of this violence, the rare gentleness of
some of her characters impacted many readers. 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. (htkamb reflects). CLINCHER SENTENCE



Argument number 1: Situations occurring at the time of MB are important to acknowledge

To Kill a Mockingbird is a well know book throughout America. Harper Lee has sold over
30 million copies worldwide, and it has also been made into a popular movie. On the opposite
spectrum, this novel has also been banned and criticized from schools all across the nations for
various reasons. Some say it was banned because of the violence and rape within the context of
the story. Others say it was banned due to the language and profanity used. Although these are
all true statements, there is more to the story. The time period of which this novel is placed is
significant to American history. The language and violence shows the readers how African
Americans acted and were treated back in those days. Throughout the novel Atticus Finch, the
father of the narrator and a lawyer, brings home many stories of rape and accused violence.
There are statistics from this time period to support his stories. 288 cases of black-on-white
rape17 of the accused were killed, 50 were executed, 48 were given max. sentence, 52 were
sentenced to prison terms of five years or less. (HTKAMB reflects). Crime was a normal
occurrence for people in the south during the 50s and 60s, especially between blacks and whites.
The importance of this discussion within the book is for high-school-aged students to realize the
improvements our country has made. From viewing the coming together of race as immoral,
dangerous, and ungodly, to having all American citizens allowed equal rights, our country has
made large improvements since the 1930s; however, we still have plenty more to go.
The time period of the 1930s was also within the Great Depression, causing issues
between race and class equality. Lee based her story in this time period of many injustices so
her readers could catch a glimpse of what life was like for those who were not fortunate enough



to live the American dream. Her story shows the hard work many people had to put into their
jobs everyday to earn little money and all the hardships that came along with it. For years her
novel has been an inspiring story for many. Although some people say the past is in the past, the
issues discussed are still in effect today. By educating the younger generation, our country can
work towards fixing the injustices more and more each day.

Argument number 2: Reasons it shouldnt be banned, and the value of having it in the
Intertwined within the story of this novel, many underlining themes are hidden. From the
outside, the audience might gather the outline of the story, missing out on the main point of the
novel. Past all of the drama, crime, and injustices discussed, the story also embodies values of
dignity, courage, racial equality, and common humanity (Books that Inspire, Books that offend).
For these reasons, the story can be an influential story for students and teachers.
People opposing this novel might say that there are plenty of other books that could
showcase these aspects into the students lives, books that dont include the sexual content and
profanity. This is true, there are many other books that can inspire readers to have courage and
stand up for themselves. However, this book is written specific to the civil rights movement era,
an important time period for America. Along with the significant time period, the story is also
written from a childs point of view, allowing students to understand the feelings and emotions of
Scout on a personal level. As Murray states in More Than One Way to (Mis)Read a
Mockingbird, Its Scout who makes the journeyfrom prejudice to tolerance, from ignorance to
wisdom, from violence to self-control, from bigotry to empathy, from a code of honor to a code



of law. Scout goes through many changes and faces trials that are relatable for students going
through similar aspects of life. Although the circumstances are different, Scout can identify with
students reading and as the narrator, she can influence them through her actions and words.
The importance of having a child as the narrator is a big part of why To Kill A
Mockingbird is a valuable tool to have in a classroom. The sins of society are revealed through
the eyes of a young, somewhat innocent character who comments on the absurdity of individuals
and society. (Mockingbird still singing). Allowing the innocent and naive words of a child to
narrate this historical story, it reaches the audience in a new way, allowing them to view the book
differently. For example, here is a quote from Scout:
Neighbors bring food with death and flowers with sickness and little things in between.
Boo was our neighbor. He gave us two soap dolls, a broken watch and chain, a pair of
good-luck pennies, and our lives. But neighbors give in return. We never put back into
the tree what we took out of it: we had given him nothing, and it made me sad. (Lee
This quote shows how unknowing Scout was, and how she cared so much about her neighbor,
despite the awful words other children used against him. She does not meet him until the end of
the book, when he saves their lives. In these words, Scout shows how the words of others have
no effect on how one should judge a person. Scout ignores the rumors, and loves her neighbor
despite what is said about him. She is naive to the hate around her, and she focuses on the love
within her.