Banned Or Not Essay, Research Paper
Banned or Not?
“Just say You gonna do what your mammy wouldn’t. First he put his thing up against my hip and sort of wiggle it around. Then he grab hold my titties. Then he push his thing inside my *censored*. When that hurt, I cry. He start to choke me, saying You better shut up and get used to it.” (Walker 1-2) If you as a parent took The Color Purple off the shelves and just opened the book you would begin by reading the quote above. As a parent who just opens the book and reads the first two pages, already, based on a snap judgment do not want their child to read this Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Alice Walker.
The much talked about novel, The Color Purple, can be seen as controversial to many different groups of people. This book for some time now has been under evaluation as to when if at anytime this book should be introduced to students. This book contains many different topics that people may not comprehend and may just see the different scenes as offensive instead of exploring the scenes for the deeper meaning. One man in Tennessee declares. “I just read enough of the book to know I don’t want to read the book.” (Holt 15) Is this a fair judgment to be made?
This novel explores the journey of the main character, Celie in her search to find her true self and discover the true meaning of love. Some people find this novel inappropriate because it goes beyond societies norms and explores many controversial topics. Majority of arguments against this book are based on personal feeling. They do not take into consideration the life lessons that are to be learned by reading this book. One woman in Chattanooga, Tennessee says, ‘But this garbage they are dishin’ out, I don’t appreciate it. It’s just trash to me.” (Chattanooga 162) This women’s claim for the reasons why she doesn’t like this book are based on how she feels, she doesn’t not support her argument with any evidence. Bobby Wood claims that this book has “has social redeeming values” (Chattanooga 162) but lacks to incorporate what acceptable social values are. The arguments against this book are weak.
Throughout this book there are many different topics explored that may be viewed as offensive to people if they just look at the words and not the meaning or relationship it has to the novel. This book explores the relationships with black men and women, blacks and whites in general and both sexual exploration and the sexual relations between men and women. The main topic that gets the most controversy is its explicit details on the sex life of the main character Celie.
One specific example of one of the many controversial points is the idea of the sexual exploration between the two main female characters. To someone who is just looking at the face meaning of this may find this inappropriate for someone to read. “Button? Finger and tongue? My face hot enough to melt itself. She say, Here, take this mirror and go look at yourself down there, I bet you have never seen it, have you?” (Walker 81) If a parent of any child were to just open this book and read this section alone without any background you could see how it may upset them. However, when this is explored within the context of the book it doesn’t seen as inappropriate. When taken in perspective it is about the two main characters, Shug showing Celie that with love a sexual relationship can actually mean something. Celie is used to having sex with her husband, whom she feels nothing for, and not enjoying it or having any feeling. To Celie, Shug opens a new world to her and shows her that she is loved and worth something. That she can explore herself without feeling strange about it. Without the graphic details, the novel could not be as strong and the reader could not se the difference in Celie as well. If this book just plainly wrote that Shug taught me how to please myself it would still create uproar, the fact that it goes into detail just shows the importance of this point in the novel.
Along with the sexual exploration in Celie the book also takes sexuality to another level. It explores the sexual relations between men and women. Like Celie explains to Shug in the book, she says she feels nothing when her and her husband have sex. In this novel it seems that for a woman to have sex with her husband is just another duty a wife has to her husband. “I say Mr.___ can tell you, I don’t like it at all. He git up on you, heist your nightgown round your waist, plunge in. Most times I pretend I ain’t there. He never know the difference. Never ast me how I feel, nothing. Just do his business, get off, and go to sleep.” (Walker 81) It is ok for a man to have sex with is wife whenever he pleases, whether she wants to or not.
In this novel, sex is not seen as something beautiful shared between two people that love each other, like people are normally taught. The only time sex is seen as something that two people who care for each other enjoying is the controversial scenes between Celie and Shug. That is why there is such an emphasis around the scenes with the two of them. It is a very important part of the novel. In the majority of the scenes sex is more like something forced onto a women, not a consensual act. As shown before the beginning of the book opens with a journal entry by Celie about how she was raped by whom she then thought was her father. This book opens with a controversial scene and continues throughout the book.
This book was obviously written for groups of students who are mature enough to handle talking about sexual relations along with many other topics this book covers. No teacher would just make some 5th grader read this book. If that were the case then the parents who do not want there children reading this book would have a valid point. At that age children are definitely not ready to handle the material written in this book. However, the teachers who require students to read this book assign it to higher-level students in high school who are mature enough to hold lengthy and adult conversations about the material presented in this book. Sexuality is a much talked about issue in this book, therefore no teacher would require this book if they did not feel the group they were teaching could handle it; if so a good portion of this book would have to remain un-talked about, making it pointless to read.
This book in no way should be banned from high school or college curriculum. Some people say that this book should not be required to be read, but if a student should want to pick it up on their own and read it then that would be fine. What is the point of that? If a student is going to read this book anyhow, why not read in it the classroom where all the “controversial” points can be discussed and the deeper meanings can be found. This way the book can be seem more as a learning experience other than a trashy novel as some parents feel.
1.“Chattanooga, Tennessee” Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom. (Sept. 1989): 162
2.Holt, Patricia “Introduction” Banned. Ed. Alice Walker. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1996. 1-17
3.Walker, Alice. The Color Purple. New York: Pocket Books, 1982.