Catcher in the Rye should not be Banned
Written by J.D. Salinger, the book The Catcher in the Rye, was published in the year 1951, and has been the subject of constant debates and controversies. The novel has not only been the target of ridicule and criticisms, but has also sparked an intriguing discussion on its validity for use in high schools. The novel centers around the life of the sixteen year old Holden Caulfield. The novel deals with issues such as profanity, irrational behavior, and teenage sex and has very vital and appropriate lessons to teenagers and youth as it teaches the benefits of tolerance, discipline, religion, and rational behavior. It in particular teaches the youth that desirable behavior is more beneficial to them than to the society and as such, it should not be banned from high school curricula. This paper will analyze the reasons whyThe Catcher in the Rye should not be banned from the curriculum of literature subjects that are taught in high schools.
First, it is invalid and inappropriate to ban the book based on the reasoning that it promotes profanity because the critics who desire to restrict education to the content that upholds their beliefs have a selfish motive.The profanity that is made reference to in this case includes words like ass, sex, hell, and others. For example, “Game, my ass. Some game.” (Salinger 8). The proposition to ban a book from school courses as a means of protecting children from profanity, is an escapist approach by critics. Profanity is very rampant in today’s society, and in the TV, the word sex is said after an interval of six minutes on major television channels (Dow 140).Students cannot be therefore protected absolutely from the use of profanity because they will hear it everywhere. In addition, most of the students use profanity during their interaction and for this reason, banning the Catcher in the Rye based on protecting students from profanity is an invalid reason.
As a matter of fact, the level of profanity applied in the novel is almost at a similar level as that applied in PG-13 rated movies. A PG-13 rated movie is any movie that is suitable for persons above the age of 13 and unsuitable for those below this age limit (Dow 130). Nevertheless, in a typical high school, the student fraternity are usually students above 13 years of age and as such, because the profanity and level of vulgar terms used in the novel The Catcher in the Rye is appropriate for high school students, profanity is not applicable as a basis of censorship or scrutiny and does not validate the banning of the book. In the same respect the protagonist, Holden,, swears and curses throughout the novel using relatively subtle words like,”damn,””hell,””crap”, “ass”, and he curses consistently but in a self-conscious manner, and this makes the words lose their vulgar nature. For instance, “I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense…” (Salinger 8).In fact, most of the cursing in the novel is not even equal to that in a PG-13 rated movie (Dow 46).
Secondly, the banning of books is an infringement on the rights and freedoms which is the foundations of the nation of America. For instance, the Bill of Rights is one of the prominent founding principles of the nation and the first US Bill amendment states”Congress shall make no regulation that respects an establishment of religion, or prohibits the free exercise thereof; or abridges the freedom of speech or of the press” (US Constitution). As a result , banning a book like The Catcher in the Rye is a violation of the right and is eventantamount to limiting the freedom of speech, hence giving restrictions to individuals from enforcing the rights provided for in the First Amendment. The banning of books is therefore acting against the Constitution and this is because the First Amendmentapplies not just to adults in the United States but to all citizens,regardless of age.
This implies that freedom of speech is applicable to minors like students to have the right to express their own ideas freely and receive any information they need and that, students in high schools have the right to read, and be taught using the book The Catcher in the Rye, if they are interested in it. Banning the book can restrict the rights of US citizens and this is exemplified in the quote “The thing with kids is if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but it’s bad if you say anything to them” (Salinger 211), which depicts the importance of the novel to the students.
The third reason why the novel, The Catcher in the Rye, should not be banned from high school curriculum is that it provides many moral lessons that a student can learn from and these are based on education, religion, intolerance, and respect. For example, Holden is presented as being intolerant to everybody, disrespectful, and hateful and he hates the use of certain words. Yet, the lack of religion also makes him intolerant because he considers himself an atheist as he cannot cope with any religion. Besides religion his intolerance is based on the fact that hehas a problem with everyone since he lacks respect and does not admit to any mistake. In addition, he is so much into teenage sex as revealed in his words, “Sex is something I really don’t understand too hot. You never know where the hell you are. I keep making up these sex rules for myself, and then I break them right away. Last year I made a rule that I was going to quit horsing around with girls that, deep down, gave me a pain in the ass. I broke it, though; the same week I made it – the same night, as a matter of fact” (Salinger 131). Consequently his intolerant personality is unacceptable in the society, and the book teaches that this is an undesirable trait.
In conclusion, the Catcher in the Rye ought not be banned from the school curriculum because thiswould limit the rights of students. In addition, it would restrict freedoms of speech and expression and even though it has featured several controversial issues like profanity, the book has very essential moral lessons that the readers could benefit from. As such, profanity is not an adequate reason to warrant the banning of the book from the curriculum, and the school curriculum is founded on strong principles that do not permit the unconstitutional practices such as the banning of a book.Therefore, there is not adequate reason for banning the Catcher in the Rye.
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US Constitution. “Amendment 1: Freedom of Religion, Press, and Expression.” Web. 19, December2013. http://www.usconstitution.net/const.htmlhttp://www.usconstitution.net/const.html.
Dow, Bonnie.Prime-Time Feminism: Television, Media Culture, and the Women’s movement
since 1970. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996. Print.