Banning books or challenging books present in schools is very much a problem for me, because the parents never choose to ban the boring books. I could have lived without having to read Great Expectations in 9th grade. I could have lived without being forced to read The Old Man and The Sea in 8th grade. Maybe I wouldn't have such a burning hatred for Hemingway had that not occurred. I am also sure that both of those books are great works; but when we are discussing 'age appropriate' materials, it seems strange that we ban books that deal with controversial issues the students themselves may relate to (puberty, isolation, sexuality) instead of putting on hold those books that need a bit longer frame of reference. My father is convinced that if I read The Old Man and The Sea when I'm around 30, I will love it because the frame of my own existence will better inform me of Santiago's. I suppose that may be true; but as I was reading it, I couldn't help but focus on the fact that this was a book that took 88 pages to say what could be adequately summed up in five lines.
I actually don't agree with the banning of any book, because book banning is a way of sanitizing life. As much as I like Franny and Zooey and Nine Stories more than The Catcher in the Rye, I understand the latter's significance. The reasons for banning it include the fact that Holden is a poor role model, but refuse to entertain the thought that maybe teenagers are smart enough not to look to Holden to be that role model. To ignore Holden's plight and story and impulses is to ignore the very facets of existence. To ban a book because it has profanity (which most students have heard), drinking (which most students know about), and promiscuity (I don't think I got that memo) is to pretend that those aspects of life are foreign to students and to expose them to these elements in literary form will somehow formalize ideas they hitherto did not know they possessed. Books banned generally contain themes and language that are uncomfortable for adults, not the students who who being protected. Adults do not want to believe that students are sexual, that students swear, that students are in actuality full human beings with the conflicting thoughts and desires that entails. By banning books, they seem to feel that they are protecting their children from unsavory influences. But I have never known a child to go bad because of a book.