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10 Books Banned Because Critics Missed the Point

10 Books Banned Because Critics Missed the Point

Books are often banned or challenged because their critics read a novel’s content without any context. An off-the-cuff swear word could be used as ammunition for getting a book taken off the shelves, especially if the critics aren’t reading between the lines, and only looking at words. Ironically, the reason many books are banned is simply because the people behind the censorship have absolutely no idea what the story they’re reading is actually about. Check out this list of 10 books banned for the wrong reasons.

1. The Lord of the Flies, William Golding

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    Golding’s infamous story about a group of children who, upon crashing onto a deserted island, slowly develop a microcosm that ultimately leads to death and destruction has been challenged time and again, for a variety of reasons. Most notably, it was challenged in a North Carolina high school for being “demoralizing inasmuch as it implies that man is little more than an animal.” Okay, so I guess these parents didn’t exactly misunderstand the book, but they certainly misunderstood that this is exactly what the reader is supposed to get out of reading the novel.

    2. Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger

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      Published in 1951, Catcher in the Rye chronicles the adventures of teenage misanthrope Holden Caulfield. Critics have pointed to the vulgar language, sexual references, and situations with alcohol in their crusade to ban this book from library shelves and high school English classes since 1960. What they fail to realize is the story is told by Holden, not by Salinger. What did they expect a story told by a cynical teenager suffering from depression (to say the least) to contain? That it’s not made blatantly clear until the end of the novel that Holden is telling this story from the comfort of a mental institution makes you wonder if the critics even finished it, or were too busy counting how many times Caulfield drops the “f-bomb” to get around to it.

      3. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

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        One of the most popular American novels also happens to be one of the most misunderstood stories of our time. The fact that the 2013 movie release spawned many “Gatsby-themed” parties throughout the country make it even more obvious that Fitzgerald’s intentions have gone unnoticed by the general population. Ironically, the degenerate actions of most of the characters within Gatsby have little to do with the reason the novel has been challenged since its publication in 1925. It was challenged in the 1980s by Baptist College in South Carolina, citing use of the words “d—,” “h—,” and “son-of-a-b—-,” as well as a couple of vague sexual innuendos. Honestly, if they wanted to ban the book that badly, there is a ton of material they could have used that would make much more sense.

        4. Catch-22, Joseph Heller

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          Catch-22 is the story of a World War II soldier who desperately wants to leave the battlefield on grounds of insanity. However, he cannot since anyone who would want to leave the armed forces is obviously not insane, and therefore must fight. It’s a scathing commentary on the “heroics” of war, painting a picture that the purpose of war is to perpetuate the war itself. Seen as anti-patriotic, it was banned by an Ohio school district in 1972. However, this ban was lifted four years later. Ironically, it was banned in a Washington city for the references to prostitutes throughout the novel. Of all the contextual evidence critics could have used, they rely on the use of a simple word to constitute a banning.
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          5. Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison

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            Ellison’s novel paints a vivid picture of the atrocities of race relations in early 20th century America. While incredibly eye-opening, it is also incredibly graphic, gratuitous, and disturbing. Despite an overwhelming positive response from critics, complaints from two parents were enough to ban the novel in a North Carolina city school district. One adult claimed the story did not have “any literary value” at all. Ironic, since TIME magazine called this book “the quintessential American picaresque of the 20th century.” Did the parents who argued against the teaching of this book also argue against teaching the realities of pre-Civil Rights-era America?

            6. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey

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              Kesey’s famous depiction of the atrocities committed against patients in a 1950s mental institution has been challenged by a number of school districts. Most notably, the same Ohio district that challenged Catch-22 also decided that One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest “glofiries criminal activity, has a tendency to corrupt juveniles and contains descriptions of bestiality, bizarre violence, and torture, dismemberment, death, and human elimination.” While it’s clear that they at least read the book, it’s not so evident that they understood Kesey’s message. Unfortunately, the author’s message, that mental patients are human beings and should be treated as such, must have gone right out the window with Chief Bromden.

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              7. The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer

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                An incredibly vivid, gratuitous, and overall disturbing novel, The Naked and the Dead chronicles the atrocities of World War II unlike any other novel to date. I’ll be blatantly honest, I couldn’t finish it. It’s that heart-wrenching, twisted, and depressing. Of course, that has nothing to do with why people have wanted to ban it since its publication in 1948. It was banned in Canada and Australia for the use of the word “fug” (a euphemism which I’m sure you can figure out), and for being deemed “disgusting” by the Canadian Minister of National Revenue, despite his not actually having read the novel at all. He’s right though, the novel is disgusting, but so is war.

                8. The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

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                  One of Steinbeck’s greatest novels, The Grapes of Wrath centers on a working-class family trying to stay afloat during the Great Depression. Published in 1939, the work was attacked for its wanton depiction of Depression-era life for those negatively affected by the stock market crash. Though Steinbeck himself argued that real life was much worse for the poor than how his novel depicted it, many critics accused him of spreading political propaganda. Regardless of all of this, the book has also been challenged or banned in a variety of school districts because the characters at times take the Lord’s name in vain. I mean, how dare these people who have been forced to the brink of starvation let their frustrations out through a few carelessly used phrases?

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                  9. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

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                    It can’t get any more ironic, can it? A story about the slippery slope of censorship actually being chopped up and expurgated is like…I can’t even come up anything as ridiculous to compare this to. Well, it gets funnier. The book wasn’t outright banned, but a California school district actually went through the trouble of blanking out vulgar words and passages throughout the novel. Another district in Texas challenged the novel for “discussion of being drunk, smoking cigarettes, violence, ‘dirty talk,’ references to the Bible, and using God’s name in vain.” I should end this list now so you can reflect on the irony of this situation, but there’s one more important one to get to.

                    10. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

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                      The “Great American Novel” has been challenged since its publication over 100 years ago. Unfortunately, the most important novel in American history is also the most misunderstood. Yes, it’s vulgar. Yes, it uses the “n-word.” Yes, it does expose God-fearing, church-going pre-Civil War Americans as the racist imbeciles most of them were. However, the story is an absolute necessity for anyone hoping to understand what it was like, not only for Blacks in America at the time, but also for anyone who has faced a life-changing moral dilemma during their time on Earth. Any critics who point to the characters’ vulgar language or immoral actions in the novel as evidence the book should be banned have missed Twain’s purpose for writing it. If everyone in the world lived by Huck’s code of ethics, there would be far less violence, hatred, and prejudice.

                      Featured photo credit: Books/Pixabay via pixabay.com

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                      Last Updated on September 12, 2019

                      12 Things You Should Remember When Feeling Lost in Life

                      12 Things You Should Remember When Feeling Lost in Life

                      Even the most charismatic people you know, whether in person or celebrities of some sort, experience days where they feel lost in life and isolated from everyone else.

                      While it’s good to know we aren’t alone in this feeling, the question still remains:

                      What should we do when we feel lost and lonely?

                      Here are 12 things to remember:

                      1. Recognize That It’s Okay!

                      The truth is, there are times you need to be alone. If you’ve always been accustomed to being in contact with people, this may prove difficult.

                      However, learning how to be alone and comfortable in your own skin will give you confidence and a sense of self reliance.

                      We cheat ourselves out of the opportunity to become self reliant when we look for constant companionship.

                      Learn how to embrace your me time: What Your Fear of Being Alone Is Really About and How to Get over It

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                      2. Use Your Lost and Loneliness as a Self-Directing Guide

                      You’ve most likely heard the expression: “You have to know where you’ve been to know where you’re going.”

                      Loneliness also serves as a life signal to indicate you’re in search of something. It’s when we’re in the midst of solitude that answers come from true soul searching.

                      Remember, there is more to life than what you’re feeling.

                      3. Realize Loneliness Helps You Face the Truth

                      Being in the constant company of others, although comforting sometimes, can often serve as a distraction when we need to face the reality of a situation.

                      Solitude cuts straight to the chase and forces you to deal with the problem at hand. See it as a blessing that can serve as a catalyst to set things right!

                      4. Be Aware That You Have More Control Than You Think

                      Typically, when we see ourselves as being lost or lonely, it gives us an excuse to view everything we come in contact with in a negative light. It lends itself to putting ourselves in the victim mode, when the truth of the matter is that you choose your attitude in every situation.

                      No one can force a feeling upon you! It is YOU who has the ultimate say as to how you choose to react.

                      5. Embrace the Freedom That the Feeling of Being Alone Can Offer

                      Instead of wallowing in self pity, which many are prone to do because of loneliness, try looking at your circumstance as a new-found freedom.

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                      Most people are in constant need of approval of their viewpoints. Try enjoying the fact that  you don’t need everyone you care about to support your decisions.

                      6. Acknowledge the Person You Are Now

                      Perhaps you feel a sense of loneliness and confusion because your life circumstances have taken you away from the persona that others know to be you.

                      Perhaps the new you differs radically from the old. Realize that life is about change and how we react to that change. It’s okay that you’re not who you used to be.

                      Take a look at this article and learn to accept your imperfect self: Accept Yourself (Flaws and All): 7 Benefits of Being Vulnerable

                      7. Keep Striving to Do Your Best

                      Often those who are feeling isolated and unto themselves will develop a defeatist attitude. They’ll do substandard work because their self esteem is low and they don’t care.

                      Never let this feeling take away your sense of worth! Do your best always and when you come through this dark time, others will admire how you stayed determined in spite of the obstacles you had to overcome.

                      And to live your best life, you must do this ONE thing: step out of your comfort zone.

                      8. Don’t Forget That Time Is Precious

                      When we’re lost in a sea of loneliness and depression, it’s all too easy to reflect on regrets of past life events. This does nothing but feed negativity and perpetuate the situation.

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                      Instead of falling prey to this common pitfall, put one foot in front of the other and acknowledge every positive step you take. By doing this, you can celebrate the struggles you overcome at the end of the day.

                      9. Remember, Things Happen for a Reason

                      Every circumstance we encounter in our life is designed to teach us and that lesson is in turn passed on to others.

                      Sometimes we’re fortunate enough to figure out the lesson to be learned, while other times, we simply need to have faith that if the lesson wasn’t meant directly for us to learn from, how we handled it was observed by someone who needed to learn.

                      Your solitude and feeling of lost, in this instance, although painful possibly, may be teaching someone else.

                      10. Journal During This Time

                      Record your thoughts when you’re at the height of loneliness and feeling lost. You’ll be amazed when you reflect back at how you viewed things at the time and how far you’ve come later.

                      This time (if recorded) can give you a keen insight into who you are and what makes you feel the way you feel.

                      11. Remember You Aren’t the First to Feel This Way

                      It’s quite common to feel as if we’re alone and no one else has ever felt this way before. We think this because at the time of our distress, we’re silently observing others around us who are seemingly fine in every way.

                      The truth is, we can’t possibly know the struggles of those around us unless they elect to share them. We ALL have known this pain!

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                      Try confiding in someone you trust and ask them how they deal with these feelings when they experienced it. You may be surprised at what you learn.

                      12. Ask for Help If the Problem Persists

                      The feeling of being lost and lonely is common to everyone, but typically it will last for a relatively short period of time.

                      Most people will confess to, at one time or another, being in a “funk.” But if the problem persists longer than you feel it should, don’t ignore it.

                      When your ability to reason and consider things rationally becomes impaired, do not poo poo the problem away and think it isn’t worthy of attention. Seek medical help.

                      Afraid to ask for help? Here’s how to change your outlook to aim high!

                      Final Thoughts

                      Loneliness and a sense of feeling lost can in many ways be extremely painful and difficult to deal with at best. However, these feelings can also serve as a catalyst for change in our lives if we acknowledge them and act.

                      Above anything, cherish your mental well being and don’t underestimate its worth. Seek professional guidance if you’re unable to distinguish between a sense of freedom for yourself and a sense of despair.

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                      Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

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