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The Scarlet Letter tells the story of Hester Prynne, a woman who lives on a Puritan settlement in 17th century New England. Hester Prynne is imprisoned for being found guilty of adultery and refusing to reveal the father’s name. She then is forced to wear a scarlet letter “A” on her chest. She vows to create a respected new life, one of dignity and dedicated to the church’s teachings. Meanwhile, she and her daughter, Pearl, are shunned from the rest of the Puritan community they live in. Hawthorne addresses ideas of feminism, religion, and sin along with a plethora of other meaningful topics through their struggles and their story.
And yet this doesn’t remotely touch upon Hawthorne’s immensely gorgeous writing style. But I’ll come back to that!
Written in 1850, this romantic American literary classic is still a popular choice for high school teachers and college professors. That being said, this book continues to be challenged since its publication. It was first banned in 1852 in Russia by Czar Nicholas I and later that year in Massachusetts by moralists. “The citizens of Salem were so incensed by Hawthorne’s novel that he moved his family out of the city to a farmhouse in the Berkshires.” In 1961, a Michigan high school challenged it for being “pornographic and obscene.” Another challenging (of a vague context) took place in Missouri condemning the book for “its use of “4-letter words” and other “undesirable content.”“
The book is devoid of language or scenes that could be considered sexual. That is— unless you count its plot, which derives from Hester’s adulterous relationship and the birth of her child, to be ‘pornographic.’ Hester’s adulterous relations that result in her having Pearl only imply that she engaged in intimate activates outside of her marriage. The very reasoning behind why someone would continue to challenge the book on such grounds is beyond me.
So here we are again, humble readers, faced with the issue of censorship due to sexual content. As I covered in my last post, the idea that people are fearful of sexuality is constantly resurfacing. So fearful, that they have to ban books so others, namely their children, can’t be exposed to the material they find so offensive.
I understand that people would ban this book in fear of their children being exposed to adult material, but in all honesty, a child could never read this book. The collegiate language this book utilizes is that which a child could never understand anyways.
This great novel simply focuses on a single mother and her child navigating the world alone. And in the 21st century, single mothers are a commonplace, whether never married, widowed, or divorced.
Its unfortunate that so many want to see it banned, for the topics the book covers are all very relevant to our human experience. When you censor a book, you keep all the knowledge that book contains and sequester its audience, which limits the audience that the book’s lessons can reach. Censorship also keeps others from becoming experiencing a work of art in the form of the written word.
So let’s quit wasting time on hating books and more on appreciating them!
Persepolis was reportedly recalled by the Chicago Public School system Thursday morning.
The original French edition published the stories in two books — Persepolis 1:The Story of a Childhood and Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return. The book in question with the CPS is Persepolis 1:The Story of a Childhood.
Persepolis is an autobiographical graphic novel, written and illustrated by Marjane Satrapi, that tells the story of her childhood in Iran during the Islamic revolution.
This beautifully written and illustrated graphic novel was banned for use of “four letter words” and a scene deemed inappropriate, claiming the 7th and 8th grade students were not developmentally mature enough to handle such material.
Now, the specific scene on page 53 that raised concern involved torture, and climaxed with the torturer urinating on a man’s back. I can understand how some would be concerned over this subject material, as it is unsettling. But even in its disturbing nature, the readers become aware to the occurrence of these events, and awareness of real life events is never a bad thing. If anything, it’s eye opening. This experience allows the reader to realize situations affecting other people,
While I read Persepolis in high school, I also read Catcher in the Rye—a book constantly banned for using the same “four letter words” as Persepolis—but I read it in sixth grade. Age shouldn’t bar a child’s access to reading material, for age does not determine or fairly represent maturity.
You can’t attempt to protect children from language. For language, especially common language (meaning those “four letter words”) they’ve probably been exposed to already, is everywhere. From being shouted on street corners or emblazoned on internet sites, restricting a child’s access to a book will never shelter them from words, specifically those dreadful “four letter words.”
The CPS students of Lane Tech organized after school and rallied against this banning. Around 100 students were gathered at the corner of their school’s block, united in their love of reading. Luckily, I, along with the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, had the opportunity to witness this inspirational display of youth and passion. With spiteful signs and hope filled voices, they adamantly challenged their school’s rash actions.
In the words of young Marjane, “I had learned that you should always shout louder than your aggressor.”
And as powerfully demonstrated by the CPS Lane Tech students, it is ensured that the First Amendment will continue to be shouted louder than our aggressor.
“Have I gone mad?”
“I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret - all the best people are.”
- Alice in Wonderland
Alors, j’ai tiré encore quatre fois sur un corps inerte où les balles s’enfonçaient sans qu’il n’y parût. Et c’était comme quatre coups brefs que je frappais sur la porte du malheur. — L’Étranger, 1942, Albert Camus (via stereotypes-killed-youth)
How Africa Would Look Like if its Borders Were Defined By Ethnicity and Language. By George Peter Murdock,1959
Areas at risk for Ebola emergence
(Source: Washington Post)
Marchesa Spring 2015 Ready-to-Wear Collection
Photos: NowFashion, for more runway gifs click HERE
(or any day, really)
Back to school shopping shouldn’t feel like robbery! Act now: ourtime.org/textbooks