Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Banned Books Week: The Catcher in the Rye

Earlier this year I wrote about The Catcher in the Rye. I had reread the book for the first time since High School and fallen in love with it all over again. I went to a very open minded High School, one that I am thankful for having helped make me into the person I am today. I recall the library having a little display about Banned Books but we never really had an issue with censorship. We saw graphic movies, read graphic books, and had very real discussions about history and problems of the present. My school was filled with culture: a mixture of every race, students from different countries, and a slew of different religious beliefs. If you didn’t want to partake in a discussion or see a movie, that was entirely your choice and completely okay. But I don’t recall a single moment where a parent tried to stop the rest of us from learning about something. 
 ©2012 Erica R Hopper. Please quote or link back, do not repost as your own. soonrememberedtales.blogspot.com
After doing Banned Books posts for the past few years and seeing what seems to be commonplace for reasons to ban a book, I was never surprised that Catcher in the Rye has been challenged. However, that doesn’t mean I give the challenges any support. The Catcher in the Rye, from 2000-2009 was the 19th most challenged book. From 1990-1999 it was the 10th most challenged book. It is listed on the American Library Association’s page for the Most Challenged Classics as the 2nd book listed with a very lengthy list of every time it has been targeted for censorship. It’s all that pesky profanity and sexual exploits that upset people again, because teenagers are completely oblivious to the actions of sex and have never heard vulgar word in their lives. In Tulsa, OK a teacher was even fired (in 1960) for assigning the book to an eleventh grade class.

Often, the challengers have been unfamiliar with the plot itself. Shelley Keller-Gage, a high school teacher who faced objections after assigning the novel in her class, noted that the challengers “are being just like Holden … They are trying to be catchers in the rye.”
-R. Wolf Baldassarro, author of Banned Books Awareness: “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger
The book did have a bad reputation for a time as the murderer of John Lennon asked the musician to sign a copy of it the morning the murder took place. It was later found by police in Chapman’s pocket. While there is no evidence that the book helped Chapman to murder Lennon, many conspiracy filled people enjoyed trying to find a connection between the two.

Aside from this unfortunate association, most schools are faced with challenges for the book due strictly to the vulgarity. Cursing has been around for a very long time and I doubt it will go away any time soon. I went shopping and intentionally listened to the conversations around me, many of which were littered with curse words. Offensive language can be found just about anywhere, is it such a problem that it is in a book because the book is being used in an educational institution? If so, I’m sure your child will hear worse from their classmates.
©2012 Erica R Hopper. Please quote or link back, do not repost as your own. soonrememberedtales.blogspot.com
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