I began this class believing that I would find it absolutely unacceptable to ban any book from any middle school or high school, and I thought that reading the books from this course would only strengthen that conviction. I was also interested to see how I felt about the course because many of the novels I had already read. What I found to be most interesting about this course was my reactions to it. Reading Huck Finn was probably the most interesting experience, as it was my fourth or fifth time reading the novel. I found it hard to believe that I would be able to gain new insight from the book, yet looking at it with the lens of a banned book I was able to learn more about the novel and myself, despite my previous reads. Reading these books made me realize how important it is to have a guide. The way that the book is taught can drastically change what you learn from it and how you interpret it.
One of the most interesting articles was one challenging Huck Finn for not more strongly stating the negative side of racism. It made me question what I thought was right when discussing a problem. Should it be blatantly stated? Or more subtle? Which is more effective? I still do not know the answer to this question. Perhaps the only book that I found myself understanding why it should be banned at certain age levels was The Color Purple. I’m not sure that I would want my child in middle school to be exposed to the evils of rape, incest, and abuse that is described in the novel. Yet, is it right because I personally feel that way, that no other child should be exposed to it?
This course made me realize that more than reading the books itself, the discussion of the books is what draws me to English classes, and makes me love English Literature. It was said in class that many of these books do not provide answers, but rather provide questions. Without the class discussion of these questions I do not think I would have gotten nearly as much out of the text. Many times in class opinions are different from each other, and it is through this discussion that you either learn more about your convictions in your own personal opinion, or your opinion begins to change as you are exposed to a different way of looking at things. In the beginning of the year we were asked why we read. I responded that I read to find out something new about myself or the world I live in, and this class did just that. I was forced to read about uncomfortable situations, be exposed to worlds and problems that I have little or no experience with, and I learned how I felt about those situations, worlds, and problems in my responses to the text.
As I reflect on all I have learned in the process of this course, I find myself coming to the answer to my own question about banning. Should books be banned? And with the exception of age appropriateness, the answer is no. All of these banned books ask the reader questions, and it is only with questions that there can be change and growth. As I read over the articles on other situations of banning, I found myself once again debating within myself whether or not I agreed with the banning. On the one hand, I can see many of the valid points for banning things such as curse words, but then find myself baffled that personal expression such as tattoos can be banned. Where is the line drawn between the freedom of expression and disrespectful? I do not have the answer, but I am hoping that through the discussions in class, I will have a stronger idea of what the answer is.