Friday, May 19, 2006

What century is this again?

It has come to my attention that the school board that my mother works for has a board member who is trying to ban books. Yes you read that right. BAN works such as Kate Chopin's The Awakening and Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5. The reason cited to me is because of such horrendous things such as the use of the word "fuck." I haven't read The Awakening in awhile, but I don't think that that's why Leslie Pinney (email: wants it banned.

Who's lives weren't shaped by discovering Kate Chopin or Kurt Vonnegut. I feel bad that I haven't read these books in a long ass time (too long if you ask me) to give a good analysis of exactly why they are great books for high schoolers to read, but Kate Chopin was my first introduction into turn of the (20th) century feminist literature. (It was also banned and fell out of publication b/c of public outcry at the begining of the 20th century when it was first published, which was a loss to all great thinkers who look for someone human in a protaganist.) Both of these books had profound impact on me in my teenage years.

I did not think that The Awakening taught me any wrong moral lessons. We are meant to see Edna's struggles with not loving her husband, with feeling smothered by her children, with her affair. It showed us a human being, struggling with the pressures of life, with her feelings of being trapped by her duties, and yet terrified of what freedom may feel like. For her we are supposed to sympathise, empathise, yes, but also at the end we feel the betrayal to her children that she also feels. What's morally corrupt about that? Should we all be satisfied reading the pop crap on Oprah's book list? NO. Our youngsters minds need to read Chopin, need to struggle through their emotions surrounding the character, through her development, and yes, through her "awakenings." It is meant to show us a piece of ourselves, yes, but also a piece of humanity. It's not all puppies and roses. (Sometimes it's your cat bringing a LIVE bird into the house at 6 in the morning and forcing you to chase it around the house trying to put it back outside without the bother of getting dressed.)

Vonnegut I obviously need to make no arguement for as everyone I know has read Slaughterhouse 5 and I'm sure had heard the "f" word before they had read it. So if you're outraged as I am, you can pretend to live in 214 or in Illinois and tell her how far she can stick her banning proposal up her ass (but nicely though).

x-posted in my LJ


SmartBlkWoman said...

I haven't read either book yet, but they're in queue. I've read, and I paraphrase, that in Chopins book the main character says that she is not willing to put her children before herself or something to that effect.

I suppose the woman trying to ban the book doesn't want that idea popping into the minds of too many impressionable high school girls. [ The idea of putting yourself first]

Dr. Brazen Hussy said...

I can't believe they're trying to ban The Awakening. I love love love that book.

Actually, when I think about all the crap going on in America today, it makes sense that someone would want to ban this book. Damn, I hate people.

Melody said...

That is so stupid! I mean...banning books? How lame is that?!? Why on earth whould someone want to ban a book, especially now that books are actually mild compared to most movies and games- not saying that do anything to someone's psyche, but I am saying that they are picking at the WRONG thing, if they thought so.

lost clown said...

I can't believe they're trying to ban The Awakening. I love love love that book.

That's how I feel about it too. It was an "awakening" for me as well. That book is so wonderful. People suck sometimes. (And my mom and I may not get along, but at least we agree that this is wrong.)

Anonymous said...

Listed below are my reasonings for including The Awakening in the Honors 12 curriculum

The novella…

1. … examines people for who they are: how they present themselves to the world versus their true inner feelings.
2. … reveals the various aspects of relationships: the unintentional, the sensual, the committed, the neglectful, etc.
3. … demonstrates the cultural elements of a time gone by and a woman who exists ahead of her time.
4. … presents and relies upon the body language and mental anguish of relationships.
5. … provides a bittersweet perspective of unrequited love.
6. … details aspects of life with which not everyone is familiar or aware.
7. … explores and questions traditional gender roles.
8. … examines that sense of not being where you feel that you belong, the sense of displacement, and the concerns within your soul of your own personal obligations.
9. … represents man's necessity to rely upon fantasy in order to function/survive in the real world in an effort to overcome/avoid disappointment.
10. … reveals the sad reality that some cannot adjust to their surroundings and may resort to desperate measures without consideration for the needs of others.
11. … provides characters who represent the various types of people in life who may be stereotypical.
12. … explores the dark side of life that most people would prefer to ignore.
13. …represents the "blindness" that exists in some relationships.
14. …reveals the possibility for love/happiness through Adele which contrasts Edna's sense of entrapment/isolation.
15. …examines the changing role of women in American society and dispels the expectations of women as mother-women/wives.
16. …reveals the wordless understanding that exists within so many relationships.
17. Kate Chopin wrote this novel and supported her decision to write it regardless of the scathing reviews that it received, because of its immoral content; she was willing to stand up for what she believed in despite the criticism.