Advertising
Advertising

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

61JPcCSRAXL

    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

    Advertising

    51namOub2kL

      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

      81nbyAfBiAL._SL1500_

        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

        61k33tU1CaL
          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.
          Advertising

          5. Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison

          Invisible_Man

            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

            61LN-oRrCXL

              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.

              Advertising

              7. The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer

              51IdZ6X9FZL

                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

                51IeBzZguDL

                  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?

                  Advertising

                  9. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

                  41Cx8mY2UNL

                    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

                    718YWFacwXL

                      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

                      More by this author

                      7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience 20 Little Signs You’ve Found The One 8 Signs of a Man Who Will Never Ever Stop Loving You 8 Things To Remember When Dating Someone With A Guarded Heart 14 Signs You’re Not Drinking Enough Water

                      Trending in Communication

                      1 41 Beautiful Pictures That Show What True Love Is All About 2 The Lifehack Show Episode 3: Why Validation is Key to Lasting Relationships 3 How to Get Your Kids to Stop Whining All the Time 4 13 Simple Habits to Cultivate Self-Compassion 5 44 Self Love Quotes That Will Make You Mentally Stronger

                      Read Next

                      Advertising
                      Advertising
                      Advertising

                      Last Updated on July 15, 2019

                      41 Beautiful Pictures That Show What True Love Is All About

                      41 Beautiful Pictures That Show What True Love Is All About

                      Some things in life are hard to describe, yet we can recognize them when we see them.

                      Love is one of those things.

                      True love comes in many different forms, but here are some that many of us know well.

                      True love means supporting those who can’t support themselves

                      supportive couple

                        A young man comforts his date in Times Square, New York City. Image by mbtrama

                        strong hug

                          A young man holds his significant other close to him. Image by Brad Fults

                          running help

                            A young track competitor helps one of her injured opponents over the finish line. Image from ViralNova.com

                            feeding kitten

                              A soldier in the Korean War takes time to feed a baby kitten. Image from US Naval Insititute

                              It’s having the perfect selfie partner

                              mom and daughter selfie

                                A mother and her daughter take a selfie together. Image by Andrew Fysh

                                girlfriends

                                  Two young girls pose for the camera. Image by Rolands Lakis

                                  selfies

                                    A happy couple takes a picture together. Image by Kayla Heineman

                                    Advertising

                                    selfie

                                      Two best friends take a selfie together. Image by Jason Wahido

                                      dude selfie

                                        Friends take a selfie together. Image by Glenn Scofield Williams

                                        It’s all the warm fuzzies

                                        12748262703_84c008f4e5_z

                                          A young man spends time with his dog on a beach. Image by Magdalena Roeseler

                                          DSC06952

                                            A pet owner hugs his dog while on a day trip in San Francisco. Image by Taro the Shiba Inu

                                            It means having a friend to photobomb you

                                            photobomb

                                              A boy makes a funny face as he poses for a picture with his brother. Image by Michael Bentley

                                              old man photobomb

                                                A man photobombs his wife while their grandson snaps a picture. Image by Frank

                                                family photobomb

                                                  Family members photobomb their relatives’ Thanksgiving day family photo. Image by Beth Scupham

                                                  boyfriend photobomb

                                                    A friend photobombs the photographer and their friend, the woman in the foreground of this photo. Image by Lachlan Hardy

                                                    True love means being there even when life gets unbearably hard

                                                    Advertising

                                                    shoulder to cry on

                                                      A family watches the Vermont National Guard depart for Afghanistan. Image by The U.S. Army

                                                      flood dog

                                                        During a monsoon in the Philippines, a boy carries his dog to safety. Image by Romeo Ranoco

                                                        A woman is rescued from flood waters by a resident standing on top of her car during heavy rain in Chalandri suburb north of Athens

                                                          A man helps a woman out of her vehicle during a flood in Chalandri, Greece. Image by John Kolesidis

                                                          lunch

                                                            A woman has lunch with her husband every day, even after he’s passed away. Image from ViralNova.com

                                                            hug

                                                              A woman hugs the mother of 6-year-old Noah Ponzer, who was one of the victims of the Sandy Hook shootings. Image by Spencer Platt

                                                              rubble

                                                                An Oklahoma couple pauses while trying to salvage belongings from a family member’s home after a tornado. Image by Adrees Latif

                                                                sister and brother

                                                                  A girl puts her arm around her little brother as they wait outside of Sandy Hook Elementary after gunshots are fired. Image by Reuters.

                                                                  headstone

                                                                    A woman sits at her husband’s grave the day before their wedding anniversary. Image from NBC news

                                                                    It means taking the time for long goodbyes

                                                                    110321-N-BT887-100

                                                                      A man says goodbye to his son before deploying. Image by Official U.S. Navy Page

                                                                      Advertising

                                                                      national guard goodbye

                                                                        A South Carolina man says goodbye to his son before deploying for Afghanistan. Image by The National Guard

                                                                        saying goodbye

                                                                          A Sergeant hugs both of his sons before being deployed to Afghanistan. Image by The National Guard

                                                                          And cherishing reunions

                                                                          husband home

                                                                            A woman hugs her husband as she sees him for the first time since his deployment to Iraq. Image by The U.S. Army

                                                                            boyfriend home

                                                                              A young  woman hugs her significant other as he returns home for Kuwait. Image by The National Guard

                                                                              mother hug

                                                                                A mother drops to her knees as she hugs her son on her return home from the Persian Gulf. Image by The National Guard

                                                                                True love is letting yourself feel young when they’re around

                                                                                elderly women

                                                                                  Two friends on their smartphones. Image by Robert Neff

                                                                                  feeling young

                                                                                    A young couple getting their picture taken. Image by db Photograph

                                                                                    sprinkler dad

                                                                                      A father plays in a sprinkler with his daughter at Millennium Park in Chicago. Image by Ben Forsberg

                                                                                      Advertising

                                                                                      subway couple

                                                                                        A young couple on a subway enjoys sharing time together, while the girlfriend’s father sneaks a photo of them. Image by Gareth Williams

                                                                                        wheelchairs

                                                                                          A couple holds hands on a fall day. Image by David Amsler

                                                                                          It’s letting yourself be silly… just because they’ll enjoy it

                                                                                          silly faces

                                                                                            A grandfather makes faces at the camera with his granddaughters. Image by Tim Pierce

                                                                                            vote for pedro

                                                                                              A woman’s father wears a Napoleon Dynamite t-shirt to make his daughter laugh. Image by emdot

                                                                                              True love is allowing yourself to show how you really feel

                                                                                              date night

                                                                                                A young couple kisses in the back of a restaurant in Washington, D.C. Image by Derek Key

                                                                                                playing violin

                                                                                                  Violinist Nancy Dinovo plays at a memorial service for the victims of 9/11. Image by Christopher Morris

                                                                                                  True love is timeless

                                                                                                  old friends

                                                                                                    Friends spending some time together. Image by Cristian Bortes

                                                                                                    sitting around a fire

                                                                                                      A group of friends sits around a campfire eating. Image by New Old Stock

                                                                                                      elderly couple

                                                                                                        An elderly couple walks down a street together. Image by Matteo Paciotti

                                                                                                        Featured photo credit: Matteo Paciotti via flickr.com

                                                                                                        Read Next