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GENERAL BOOK DISCUSSIONS > Steinbeck??

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message 1: by Anna (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:30AM) (new)

Anna | 3 comments Could someone please enlighten a confused Swede as to why Steinbeck got banned? I mean, I know his writing is pretty critical but how exactly does the banning-people motivate it?

Man, I was just blown away by some of the books that apparently are banned.
Judy Blume???
I didn't even think about adding Judy Blume to my read-list (because it's like 15...18? years since I read it) and to me, it was books I read once and then forgot. Obviously, they're viewed as hot stuff! Let me guess - teens are having SEX.
I'm going to guess that the Shere Hite report on female sexuality isn't going to win any prizes?


message 2: by Molly (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:31AM) (new)

Molly | 4 comments I thought the same thing about Judy Blume--hadn't read her since I was thirteen or so and couldn't imagine why she was banned. The last book of hers I read was FOREVER. My mother had forbid me to read it, so I had to do it in secret. At the time, I was engrossed by the sex but also didn't see what the big deal was. I re-read it last summer, and now I see what all the ruckus is about--Blume's character really enjoys the sex, and she is not scarred by doing it when she's a teenager. She also goes to Planned Parenthood to get birth control without her parents knowing about it. I imagine that there are a lot of people in the world who are terrified by the idea of their kids reading a book that shows a positive potrayal of teen sex. And that's why I think Blume still pushes people's buttons. Lately I have read some other books about teenagers as well, and the majority of them still show teen sex in a negative light (even the notorious RAINBOW PARTY). For that reason, Blume's FOREVER is still ahead of its time. Thankfully, we can still pass it on to the young women we know in our lives.


message 3: by Skip (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:31AM) (new)

Skip | 4 comments What Steinbeck book has hit the Banned Book list?


message 4: by Nated (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:31AM) (new)

Nated Doherty | 24 comments Ahh, my Swedish friend. You don't want to try to understand these things. It's bad enough that we have to share a society with these people, we can't help being exposed to their insanity, but don't you go infuriating yourself with it. Suffice to say, some people are afraid of everything that makes other people happy and harder to control.


message 5: by Anna (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:31AM) (new)

Anna | 3 comments Well, I calmed down (Steinbeck being one of my all-time favorites) enough to google it. It seems that his use of "profanity and all sorts of filth" and social criticsm were the main reasons.

I know... sometimes I think this world really is turning into one of the dystopic stories I am so fond of.
I don't understand why more aren't saying "quit thinking we can't think for ourselves if this books really is all the s**t you're claiming it is"?!

Anyways, Nated: I appreciate you trying to save my nerves and stomach...but it's a lost cause, I think. :-)


message 6: by Kat (new)

Kat | 9 comments In Of Mice and Men a mentally handicapped man is portrayed "badly" and is shot by his best friend. Advocates for the mentally handicapped go nuts over that one...

At the end of The Grapes of Wrath the daughter (I forget her name) breastfeeds an old man after her baby died. CLEARLY (sarcasm) this is a disgusting sexual thing.


message 7: by Katie (new)

Katie Verhaeren | 4 comments One of the reasons I enjoy reading banned books so much is because so often the fact that they are banned shocks me. I read Of Mice and Men for the first time a few months ago (I have no idea how I didn't have to read it in high school) and thought it was one of the best books I have ever read. As the sister of a mentally handicapped man I have no problem with Steinbeck's portrayal of Lenny, in fact I found it touching. I think going nuts over it is being overly sensitive and perhaps a priority check should occur. I fully plan on teaching this book to my students and expect any conversations about the suitability of the portrayal of the mentally handicapped to be very interesting...


message 8: by Kat (new)

Kat | 9 comments There's the issue, though- people are overly sensitive. My uncle is severely mentally handicapped, and I had no problem with Lenny. I have no problem with a lot of stuff, as long as it is read in proper CONTEXT with lots of EXPLANATION for those who don't understand what's going on. Most of the people wigging out don't take things in context and definitely don't usually understand what's being said by the text that so offends them.


message 9: by Katie (new)

Katie Verhaeren | 4 comments Kat- I agree completely.


message 10: by Shannon (new)

Shannon | 1 comments FYI: The character's name in The Grapes of Wrath who breastfeeds the elderly man is Rose of Sharon. I taught high school English for six years, and this book was required reading for my English III Honors class. However, I did have some parents who refused to allow their children to read it. They claimed that Steinbeck's language was offensive, and I understand their point of view, but I always wondered if they had ever read the book themselves.


message 11: by Kat (new)

Kat | 9 comments It's always been my opinion that most of the people have not read the book they are complaining about. They might have read a sentence or two (usually out of context), but they probably read that sentence or two while purposely searching for something offensive. Just look at all the tripe published about the "evils" of Harry Potter and its supposed advocacy of devil-worship, etc. Good grief.


message 12: by Julia (new)

Julia | 62 comments I am a HS special education teacher and go out of my way to teach banned and challenged books. These are books that are on my state's curriculum and are the books that my students -- who've not typically had a lot of success with reading-- enjoy.
Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men is on the list for the portrayl of Lennie, the sexual situations in the book, (quite racy for 1936) the language, including -- and no one else has mentioned this-- what the black stable buck is called.
My students understand it as history.

I don't send home a permission slip for this book, as I do for some others.

The other reason, I believe, that Steinbeck is so often challenged & banned is that he treats his working class protagonists as heroes. That is still difficult for many in America.


message 13: by yvette (last edited Oct 27, 2008 04:56AM) (new)

yvette managan | 1 comments In East of Eden, one of the early and incedental characters tries to give herself an abortion with a knitting needle. It doesn't work and she delivers twins.

I read this when I was eleven - that's when I went through the Steinbeck phase. I loved it. Scared me (it felt naughty and evil and dangerous), and opened room for discussion with my parents, who had never censored reading matter of any kind.

Of Mice and Men - the mistreatment of the developmentally slow character was fitting, sad, but honestly reflected how things had been. Should we truly censor and revise history?

(I think NOT.)

Grapes of Wrath - the feeding of the old man by Rose of Sharon - it showed need. Was not naughty at all. Nothing sexual in its representation.






message 14: by Julia (new)

Julia | 62 comments Yes, George's treatment of Lennie at the end is difficult to bear, but OM&M gets banned/ challenged because the Stable Buck (he and & Curly's Wife are the only ones without *names*) is repeatedly called the "n-word." Less now, but Curly's Wife is called a tramp and something else, that my students couldn't get as a putdown.

There's a new book out about the banning of _The Grapes of Wrath_ in Kern County, (Bakersfield) CA. Where it may still be banned. The people who ran the town/ ran the farms/ ran everything didn't like how Steinbeck portrayed them.


message 15: by Carin (new)

Carin | 2 comments The bok about the banning of Steinbeck in CA is called Obscene in the Extreme by Rick Wartzman. It just came out last month, and has been getting good reviews so far.9781586483319


message 16: by Kathy (new)

Kathy  (readr4ever) | 2 comments Carin, I just ordered and received this book from Amazon. I might have to put off reading it until after Christmas, but I will get around to it. I am always interested in books about book censorship. I did quite a bit of work and reading about it when I was working on my Masters in library science. I think every librarian needs to be well-versed in this area, to be able to support the freedom to read.


message 17: by Alycia (new)

Alycia (MalfoyFanGirl) | 2 comments Many of Steinbeck's books have been banned and/or challenged. People feel threatened by such brutal honesty, I guess. Steinbeck was from Salinas and there is the National Steinbeck Museum. In fact, my avatar photo was taken there - in front of one of the exhibits with his quote "I guess there are never enough books." They show a film and there are displays explaining why certain works were not well-received by different groups.


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