Burning Books
Burning Books

Censorship and the banning of books has been an issue with nearly every creative genre of literature since its initiation. Books rooted in science fiction, such as Fahrenheit 451, Catch-22, and Brave New World, are among those which have been banned. Often these books offer colorful language, insensitive terms, and more than a few sexual exploits between them to easily fuel the fires of those who wish to censor or ban books.

When attempting to gain a more in-depth idea of why such books would be banned, delving into the subject’s layered material is key. For example, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is now considered a classic, as each of these books easily are, but there was a time when the thought of the subjects covered inside these pages invoked a feeling a fear in people that ran so deeply that the book was banned.

Bradbury wrote a bit of a cautionary tale in Fahrenheit 451 as he described a society that, ironically, burned books. In fact, the title of the literature references the actual degree at which paper ignites. The most controversial thing that happens in this book is the burning of the Bible. It is commonly thought that this is the primary reason that this ironic book in all of its defense of free speech has been banned.

Catch-22 is a war novel which is packed with colorful and often quite offensive language. It was written in the manner that it is to demonstrate authentic voice, but in its authenticity is sometimes considered racist and indecent. Author Joseph Heller was an Air Force veteran and this was his first, and most popular, book. The structure of the book is a bit chaotic with the focus often being on relationships and exchanges between people. One underlying theme being represented is how deep the struggle can be to accept authoritative decisions over one’s life when there is a moral or ethical divide in place.

Brave New World is a book featuring a dystopian society set in a world where, again here is the irony, book are banned. This piece of literature has taken considerable heat over the eight and a half decades since its initial publication. In fact, it has been banned in several countries since the day it was published. Author Aldous Huxley spared no feelings in the creation of the tales within the pages, so it has been cited as featuring explicit language, ramped racism, and being sexually explicit in nature.

In modern times book banning is typically done on a small scale. Often a town will come together to ban a book from their area or perhaps from a school board level. Some cities go to the lengths of redacting the words that they find offensive to the masses and offering the marked up book then for public reading consumption. Some, on the other hand, simply remove the literature from the library entirely.

Often the motivating factor for removing these books from reading lists or libraries altogether is the notion that they are inherently offensive. There are slurs in each of them; language that most of us would not use under any circumstance in modern times, but a manner of speaking that the authors felt was most authentically representative of the character when penning the book. There are also multiple sexual references and even the discussion of pornography.

Are these good enough reasons to ban a book? What reasons would be good enough? Is banning books the right way to go or do we as a society simply need to look at the hard truths and educate our coming generations to understand them? These are just a few of the questions bounced around when discussing the banning of literature, and only you can answer them for yourselves.

The good news is that often the same books that were once banned from the public go on to have such literal significance that our society reveres them as classics and considers them “must-reads”. This is, in fact, exactly the case with Fahrenheit 451, Catch-22, and Brave New World, as all three of them appear on many states mandatory reading lists for high school students in the United States today.


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