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To Ban or Not to Ban

Page history last edited by Millie Shah 8 years, 5 months ago

1)     Make the Decision: To Ban or Not to Ban. To Kill a Mockingbird has been the subject of many censorship attempts. Research the reasoning behind banning the novel as well as the support provided to keep the novel in schools.  Create two letters to the school board: one in support of the novel and one against the use of the novel in classrooms.  Both letters should have hard evidence found through research and with quotes from the text.  Both letters should be no less than two and a half pages, double spaced, 12 point font.


            Dear Blue Valley School District Board of Education,                    

To Kill a Mockingbird has been a controversial book, but it shouldn’t be banned. To Kill A Mockingbird should not be banned because it is an accurate portrayal of the 1930’s, teaches kids not to judge people by their race, and has won many awards.

     To Kill A Mockingbird is an accurate portrayal of life in the 1930’s. Harper Lee was born on April 28, 1959 in Monroeville, Alabama. She grew up and experienced events that she later wrote about in To Kill A Mockingbird. As Harper Lee grew up she witnessed the Scottsboro and Emmett Till Trials. These trials were very similar to the Tom Robinson case, both involved African Americans who accused of crimes they never committed. In the Scottsboro Trials, African American men were found guilty of raping white women. Also, Harper Lee’s father, A.C. Lee was a lawyer who served on the state legislature just like Atticus Finch. Harper Lee and Scout have similarities in their actions. Harper Lee and Scout were both adventurous tomboys who lived in a town filled with racism. Harper Lee’s father also defended two black men accused of murder, who were both found guilty. Lee’s mother’s maiden name was also Finch, which is the last name of Scout, the main character in To Kill A Mockingbird. As one can see through these examples, To Kill A Mockingbird is a book that shouldn’t be banned from classrooms.

     To Kill A Mockingbird teaches kids not to judge people by their race. “‘Who?’ Jem’s voice rose. ‘Who in this town did one thing to help Tom Robinson, just who?’ ‘His colored friends for one thing, and people like us. People like Judge Taylor. People like Mr. Heck Tate. Stop eating and start thinking, Jem. Did it ever strike you that Judge Taylor naming Atticus to defend that boy was no accident? That Judge Taylor might have had his reasons for naming him?’ This was a thought. Court-appointed defenses were usually given to Maxwell Green, Maycomb’s latest addition to the bar, who needed the experience. Maxwell Green should have had Tom Robinson’s case. ‘You think about that,’ Miss Maudie was saying. ‘It was no accident. I was sittin’ there on the porch last night, waiting. I waited to see you all come down the sidewalk, and as I waited I thought, Atticus Finch won’t win, he can’t win, but he’s the only man in these parts who can keep a jury out so long in a case like that. And I thought to myself, well, we’re making a step- it’s just a baby-step, but it’s a step’” (247). Miss Maudie is talking to Jem after Tom was found guilty in his trial. She points out to him that Atticus was the only man in these parts who could keep a jury out as long as they did with a case like Tom Robinson's. What she means is that if a black man is accused of a crime with an all-white jury deciding his fate their decision is usually very easy. Tom Robinsons case should have been decided in a matter of minutes because the men in the jury are biased towards blacks. But in this case it took the jury a couple of hours to decide if Tom Robinson was guilty or innocent. This action shows that Atticus made the men think, he knew without a doubt that Tom Robinson was innocent, and he made the jury think long and hard about their decision. This is important because it shows the racism African Americans experienced during this time. When I read To Kill A Mockingbird,I realized the issue of discrimination was a very prominent and widespread issue. This book emphasizes and shows the reader the racism that was excluded to blacks during the time. This is important because it helps the reader comprehend the reasons why you shouldn’t be racist toward people that are different from you. When I read this book I realized that I never want to judge someone based on their race, because it isn’t fair to judge people based on the color of their skin or any other reason. This book should not be banned because it teaches kids to treat everyone with the same respect no matter what their skin color is.

            The final reason To Kill A Mockingbird shouldn’t be banned is because it has won many awards. In 1961 To Kill A Mockingbird received the Pulitzer Prize and won paperback of the year from bestsellers magazine in 1962. In 2001 Harper Lee’s novel was invited to the Alabama Academy of Honor. Harper Lee also received an honorary doctorate from the University of Notre Dame. President George W. Bush awarded Harper Lee the Presidential Medal of Freedom. George W. Bush even went as far as to say, “To Kill A Mockingbird has influenced the character of our country for the better. It’s been a gift to the entire world.” Many other people went on to describe Harper Lee’s novel as a life changing experience. They said To Kill A Mockingbird opened their eyes to the real world.  Harper Lee continued to win many awards as her book grew more famous, and more schools began using To Kill A Mockingbird in their school curriculum. However, Harper Lee was always very humble and honest when she received awards and she often turned down interviews because she didn’t want too much attention on her. Harper Lee’s novel has never been out of print and is translated into 40 languages around the world. Her novel made a difference to the world in a positive way. To Kill A Mockingbird shouldn’t be banned because it has won many awards and is nationally recognized as a life changing book.

            To Kill A Mockingbird has been a controversial book, and many people do not think To Kill A Mockingbird is a school appropriate book.  To Kill A Mockingbird should not be banned because it is an accurate portrayal of the 1930’s, teaches kids not to judge people by their race, and has won many awards.


                                        Lindsay Davis


     Dear Blue Valley School District Board of Education,

The book To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee was a controversial book because of the way it was written and the topics discussed in the book. Three reasons it could be banned is because of profanity, racial discrimination, and serious topics discussed in the book.

Profanity is one major reason people want to ban this book. The characters in the book use the word “n****r” to show the discrimination that black people experienced during that time. They also used the word “w***e lady”, “d**n”, and “h**l” to describe the mood and the setting of the 1930’s. According to Bright Hub Education, people have demanded that this book should be banned from schools and libraries because of the profanity in it, and also because of the use of word “n****r”. “‘Scout,’ said Atticus, ‘n****r lover is just one of those terms that don’t mean anything─ like snot-nose. It’s hard to explain─ ignorant, trashy people use it when they think somebody’s favoring Negroes over and above themselves. It’s slipped into usage with some people like ourselves, when they want a common, ugly term to label somebody”’ (124). This quote explains what exactly the word means and why people use it. This is an important quote because readers will now understand how the word is used in the book and why people would suggest banning the book.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

    Another reason the book should be banned is because of racial discrimination. The book takes place in the 1930’s and during that time, black people were always segregated from white people. All white people thought that blacks did everything wrong, and that they were a problem to the community. During the court case, all of the white people thought he was guilty of raping Mayella Ewell, because he’s black, even though he did not.  ‘“The witnesses for the state, with the exception of the sheriff of Maycomb county, have presented themselves to you gentlemen, to this court, in the cynical confidence that their testimony would not be doubted, confident that you gentlemen would go along with them on the assumption─the evil assumption─that all negroes lie, that all Negroes are basically immoral beings, that all Negro men are not to be trusted around our women, an assumption ─one associates with minds of their caliber. Which, gentlemen, we know is in itself a lie as black as Tom Robinson’s skin, a lie I do not have to point out to you. You know the truth, and the truth is this: some Negroes lie, some Negroes are immoral, some Negro men are not to be trusted around women─black or white. But this is a truth that applies to the human race and to no particular race of men. There is not a person in this courtroom who has never told a lie, who has never done an immoral thing, and there is no man living who has never looked upon a woman without desire’” (233). This is part of what Atticus says about the Tom Robinson case in his final statement. This is an important quote because it explains why everybody thinks black people are bad. Atticus also explains that what white people say about blacks is just an assumption, and it doesn’t refer to all blacks. He says it’s not just blacks, but it’s also white people who act evil, people who lie or people who act immoral to other people. This is one major reason readers think this book should be banned.

The last reason we think To Kill a Mockingbird should be banned is because of serious issues. One of the main problems in the book was the Tom Robinson case. Tom Robinson, a black person, was allegedly guilty of raping Mayella Ewell, a white person. Some readers aren’t mature enough to read about the case or the issue yet, and some readers don’t understand what the issue is. “Reverend Sykes leaned across Dill and me, pulling at Jem’s elbow. ‘Mr. Jem,’ he said, ‘you better take Miss Jean Louise home. Mr. Jem, you hear me?’

Jem turned his head. ‘Scout, go home. Dill, you’n’Scout go home.’

‘You gotta make me first,’ I said, remembering Atticus’s blessed dictum.

Jem scowled furiously at me, then said to Reverend Sykes, ‘I think it’s okay, Reverend, she doesn’t understand it.’

I was mortally offended. ‘I most certainly do, I c’n understand anything you can.’

‘Aw hush. She doesn’t understand it, Reverend, she ain’t nine yet.’

            Reverend Sykes’s black eyes were anxious. ‘Mr. Finch know you all are here? This ain’t fit for Miss Jean Louise or you boys either.’”(198). Reverend Sykes points out that the court case isn’t mature enough for children, because of the topic being discussed. This is an important dialogue because it proves the statement that this is not a court case for kids because of the issues such as rape. Reverend Sykes is also concerned that as the court case goes on in deeper length, Jem, Scout, and Dill might learn something that they’re not supposed to.

            Profanity, racial discrimination, and serious issues are three reasons To Kill A Mockingbird should be banned.  It can become a bad influence on kids and teach them wrong lessons they learn in life.



Millie Shah



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