Discuss Banned Books

A Controversial Book:  Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

“The Praises and Criticisms of J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye” by  Eric Lomazoff     
Ever since its publication in 1951, J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye has served as a firestorm for controversy and debate. Critics have argued the moral issues raised by the book and the context in which it is presented. Salinger's portrayal of Holden, which includes incidents of depression, nervous breakdown, impulsive spending, sexual exploration, vulgarity, and other erratic behavior, have all attributed to the controversial nature of the novel. Yet the novel is not without its supporters, who argue that it represents the problems facing American youth during the 1950's.

To date the book has sold more than 120 million copies worldwide. The novel was chosen by TIME Magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present.  The novel has become one of the most important novel literary works of the 20th century and has been translated into almost all of the world's major languages. Thirty years after its first publication in 1951, The Catcher in the Rye was both the most banned book in United States as well as the second most taught book in public schools.  It was one of the ten most challenged books in 2005.
Along the way Caulfield has become as entrenched in the American psyche as much as any fictional character. Mark David Chapman, the man who assassinated John Lennon was found with a copy of the book at the time of his arrest and later explained that reason for the shooting could be found in the book's pages. John Hinckley, Jr., who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981, was also reported to have been obsessed with the book.

“Suppressed on Social Grounds” by Dawn B. Sova
The novel has long ignited disapproval, and it was the most frequently banned book in schools.  In 1957, Australian Customs seized a shipment of the novels that had been presented as a gift to the government by the U.S. ambassador. In 1963 parents of high school students in Columbus, Ohio, asked the school board to ban Catcher in the Rye.  In 1977 parents in Pittsgrove Township, New Jersey, challenged the assignment of the novel in an American literature class.  Objections to the novel have been numerous throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s. In 1980, the Jacksonville-Milton School libraries in North Jackson, Ohio, removed the book, as did two high school libraries in Anniston, Alabama. In 1982, school officials removed the book from all school libraries.  In 1983, parents in Libby, Montana, challenged the assignment of the book in the high school due to the 'book's contents. In 1991, the novel was challenged at Grayslake (Illinois) Community High School for profanity, and students in Jamaica High School in Sidell, Illinois.

Your Opinion

  1. Do you think it is appropriate for school districts to banned books?  In what cases is it appropriate?
  2. Do you think that it is harmful for kids or teens to watch movies or read books that deal with issues such as dropping out of school, sex, drinking, depression, etc?  When is it appropriate for teens to read books with such content and when is it not acceptable?

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