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Isabella Badillo

Ms. Woelke

Pre-AP ELA 9

22 May 2019

The Banning of a Classic

​The award-winning classic ​To Kill a Mockingbird​ by Harper Lee has made recent

headlines on the controversy over the place​ To Kill a Mockingbird​ holds in schools. Mississippi

Biloxi school has recently banned ​To Kill a Mockingbird ​due to the complaints claiming the

book caused discomfort in the students. The source of these complaints originates from students

misusing a vulgar expression that is used in the novel. The Biloxi school disregards the rich

history and valuable life lessons taught in ​To Kill a Mockingbird​ for the sake of their students’

satisfaction. Clearly, the intent was to not to discriminate against others or to cause discomfort in

readers, but rather to encourage generations to not discriminate against race, gender, or social

class, therefore, ​To Kill a Mockingbird​ should not be banned in schools.

The comfort of students regarding ​To Kill a Mockingbird​ is insignificant because students

face far more uncomfortable situations in other areas of education and it is statistically proven to

be as discomforting educators are making it out to be. Students learn in their history class about

slavery, and how white owners would abuse, rape, and kill their slaves. The ugliness of slavery

causes feelings of embarrassment among students for what our society was once was.​ To Kill a

Mockingbird​ includes a trial where a black man is falsely accused of raping a white woman,

declared guilty, and was shot in an attempt to escape from jail. The shooting of Tom Robinson

cannot be compared to what students are required to learn about slaves in history class. Slavery
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and discrimination in history may cause discomfort in students but schools do not remove history

class because schools want “to prepare students for ‘the real world’” and in history class, they

learn that “the real world is filled with its own share of inequalities and injustices” (Source B).

To continue discomfort should not according to a survey conducted by PBS “​ To Kill a

​ as voted by viewers as America's number #1 best-loved novel in the Great

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American Read”(Source D ). Clearly, the novel isn’t seen discomforting at all since the majority

of American readers enjoyed the story. The participants in this survey were comprised of the

many races that make up American culture, and because it is widely adored by a diverse

audience, it comes to show that all cultures can understand the predominant lesson of ​To Kill a

Mockingbird-​ discriminated of any sort is unacceptable in any society. The convenience of the

students should be overlooked for essential history lessons cause more discomfort and the novel

is not as discomforting as parents and students think they are.

To Kill a Mockingbird​ teaches various life lessons useful to all generations. In a cartoon

drawn by Marshall Ramsey, Atticus explains to scout that“ one thing that abides by majority rule

is a person's conscience” because knowing for yourself what is right and what is wrong is better

than following a crowd’s assumptions. (Source C). This lesson is found relatable to all readers.

In To kill a mockingbird the lesson is taught through racial discrimination but beyond racial

inequality, peer pressure and perspectives of society still persist today making this lesson

relatable to readers of all ages. When people find some relatability in what they are reading they

become more interested rather than finding discomfort in the ideas presented. ​To Kill a

Mockingbird​ “explores themes of racial injustice, gender roles, and the loss of innocence” which

causes the students to think critically about how they can apply what is taught in the book to their
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present society (Source A). Racial and gender problems still exist in today’s society. The

presented themes helps readers to understand the evolution of these issues, so present generations

can continue the trend of decreasing racial and gender concerns through the ways of

understanding behavior. These lessons help students learn why discrimination is harmful to a

group of people and why it is vital to not discriminate.

Admittingly, there are some who believe that ​To Kill a Mockingbird​ is inappropriate due

to intense topics and language. The origin of complaints is due to the inappropriate use of the

derogatory terms that were introduced in ​To Kill a Mockingbird.​ Reportedly a number of cases

have occurred where a “black child is verbally abused by being called” derogatory terms.

(Source E). It is shown that some students are not capable of comprehending the amount of

offense the word implies. By using the term in the novel it emphasizes the horrid history

surrounding this word and the ignorant usage of it in the past. Some level of maturity is required

when reading this classic for it” is not a children's book”(Source E). Meaning, this book should

not be read to elementary students or early junior high, but rather a high school and older junior

high school students. Younger students should still have access to this book in school libraries,

but it should not be required to be read in a class of elementary students but preferably, required

in a later grade. Older students understand the crudeness of such term but younger students are

more likely to be blind to the vulgarity of the word. At the age and level of maturity of high

school, students and comprehend the intense situations and understand enough to interpret the

story to better their lives. Themes and situations presented in ​To Kill a Mockingbird​ are thought

to cause discomfort among students. ​To Kill a Mockingbird​ focuses on racism and rape which

can often bring discomfort to young minds, but this discomfort is exactly what the students need
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to understand what our world was once like. Mockingbird’s discomfort “is worth it because of

the valuable life lessons the book teaches” and the growth of students are more effective under

discomforting circumstances(Source B). Rape, racism, and vulgar terms that strike discomfort in

students is more effective in initiating change to behavior. The topic of rape and usage of the

n-word is to be looked beyond because that is not the main focus or lesson of the story.

In the end, ​To Kill a Mockingbird​ prevails as a much-beloved novel for the life lessons

and the rich history the novel is based on. Discomfort should be overlooked for it is necessary for

understanding the historical depth and relevant lessons. Therefore it should be read by all

students of the high school level instead of being sheltered from the realities of the world that​ To

Kill a Mockingbird d​ isplays. The book expresses the cruelness of discrimination in the hope that

young readers will see the wrong in the past to make their present society less discriminatory

than ever.
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