Banned Books of the Day: To Kill A Mockingbird and Beloved

We’ve only got two more days left before Banned Books Week comes to a close, so in honor of that, today I’m giving you two banned books.

First off the spotlight falls on Harper Lee‘s novel To Kill A Mockingbird

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Published in 1960, the book focuses on six-year-old Scout Finch, her older brother Jem who live with their widowed father Atticus, a middle-aged lawyer in the ficitional town of Maycomb, Alabama.  Their father is appointed by the court to defend Tom Robinson, a black man who has been accused of raping a young white woman, Mayella Ewell.  Because of this, the family faces opposition from the town.

The primary themes of the novel are racial injustice and the destruction of innocence.  In addition,  Lee addresses issues of class, courage, compassion, and gender roles in the deep south.  The story and the characters are loosely based on the Lee’s observations of her family and neighbors, and an event that occurred near her hometown in 1936, when she was only 10 years old.

The book was successful from its debut and won the Pulitzer Prize.  It also has become an American classic.

Why has it been challenged/banned?

It has been challenged/banned, due its racial themes, the racial epithet ‘nigger’ that is used many times throughout the book and profanity.

 

The spotlight moves to Toni Morrison‘s novel Beloved.

beloved

Published in 1987 the novel tells the story of an escaped slave named Sethe, who kills her daughter and tries to kill her other three children when a posse arrives in Ohio to return them to the Kentucky plantation from which Sethe recently fled.  Years later, a woman presumed to be Sethe’s daughter, named Beloved, returns to haunt Sethe’s new home at 124 Bluestone Road, Cincinnati.

The story was  inspired by the story of an African-American slaveMargaret Garner, who temporarily escaped slavery during 1856 in Kentucky by fleeing to Ohio, a free state. A posse arrived to retrieve her and her children under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which gave slave owners the right to pursue slaves across state borders. Margaret killed her two-year-old daughter rather than allow her to be recaptured.

Beloved won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988. Ten years later, it was adapted into a film of the same name which starred Oprah Winfrey.  In 2006,  a survey done by the New York Times of writers and literary critics ranked the novel as the best work of American fiction of the past 25 years.

Why has it been challenged/banned?

Due to the book’s racial themes, sexual content, violence, and passages about ghosts.

 

 

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