The Catcher in the Rye
To Ban or Not to Ban: Why Catcher has so Many Rye-led Up 12th Grade
Thirty-six middle-aged people lean in simultaneously, a collection of ears trained intently on the speaker. He clears his throat before addressing the smattering of adults comprised mostly of teachers, a handful of parents, and an empty-nester townie or two. “The verdict is in,” he announces. “The novel Catcher in the Rye, despite having been on the required reading list for ten years, is… banned, henceforth, by the Parent-Teacher Association of Columbus, Ohio.”
Scenes like this one have been playing out continuously since J. D. Salinger published his most famous novel in 1951 (TIME Staff 1). Columbus was not the first district to ban the book, and it was far from the last. According to TIME Magazine, the committee had labeled the book “anti-white,” while another school district in Tulsa, Oklahoma had the teacher who assigned the novel to a classroom of juniors fired (TIME Staff 1). Though the teacher won his appeal for wrongful termination, the book remained off-limits.
The reasons this novel is so widely-feared by parents and instructors lies in its content. Mature themes of death, loss, and budding sexuality permeate the novel’s aging pages, and many fear that teens who are exposed to this content will be likely to mimic it....
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