John Steinbeck’s novel, Of Mice and Men, has a controversial history. It has been repeatedly banned by school boards. Why might this book have been banned? Is such an action justified? In a five-paragraph essay, take a position for or against banning this novel. Use your three body paragraphs to develop each of three reasons for or against banning the novel. The Lost Portion of Human Society Right from the beginning of human civilization, books had become the vital flame that ignited many great achievements.
John Steinbeck, one of the greatest writers in the American history who won the 1962 Nobel Prize, understood the desperate need of reading of the migrant workers, so he wrote Of Mice and Men in 1937 with the aspiration to tell the world about American society during the Great Depression. After being published, Of Mice and Men soon became a controversial book, and school boards had banned it, since the book contained much profanity, bullying, prostitution, and racism.
Nevertheless, Of Mice and Men accurately reflected the Great Depression society in ways that people should read and observe, rather than banning it.
One of the main reason supporting the value of the novel is that it delivered powerful themes and symbols. Lennie, being mentally disable but possessing monstrous strength, constantly falls into troubles. George, a small, smart man who travels with and takes care of Lennie, has to save him from danger. Not many men, when living in dire situations, would sacrifice their jobs or even their live to protect their companion. Yet love and friendship fill George with energy and hope to breach through any obstacles the two confront on their way.
Moreover, George usually tells Lennie about their little cozy place, where they would build a little shack, raise livestock, grow trees after they finish their one-month shift. Lennie would then be able to tend rabbits on his own without fear of danger. This is one of the most compelling symbols in Of Mice and Men, for it depicts the desire to acquire freedom, self-reliance, and protect among cruelties in the world (“Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck”). Back then, everyone dreamt to possess his or her own land and not having to work for anybody. The picture George has painted is real and irresistible enough to seduce Candy and others.
After all, Of Mice and Men teaches the world precious lessons about life, sticking to dreams, and never giving up. Another powerful proof that proves banning Of Mice and Men was such an inappropriate action is the novel illustrates true history about the Great Depression. Steinbeck once addressed about those who spoke profanity in his letter to the godmother in 1937 as “adornment and ornament and is never vulgar and [he tries] to write it so”; later, he wrote Of Mice and Men as a vivid way to describe the desperation of the Great Depression (Daniel).
At that time, migrant workers barely went to school. Therefore, the use of profanity was widespread, since uneducated workers could not understand the depth and beauty of language. Steinbeck embedded profanity in his novel because he wanted authorities to do something to improve the situation. He wanted the people to become knowledgeable, so he used writing as his unique weapon. Furthermore, Steinbeck experienced many racial slurs in his life, and he knew he should write about it, too. In Of Mice and Men, Crooks is the only black man on the ranch.
He is secluded from workers; he cannot play or talk to anyone, because “they say [he stinks]” (Steinbeck 68). Although the Civil War had passed, racism still happened across the country. African Americans should have equal rights like other ethnicities, yet the population still struggled to live and work with them. Racism not only occurred in the United States, but it also appeared internationally. Japanese believed that they were superior and then massacred different ethnicities in Southern Asia; the Nazis annihilated eleven millions innocent people simply because these people were inferior to the Aryan.
Steinbeck foresaw these problems and brought them into his book, yet he never expected it to be banned from schools, where students were supposed to read and save the world. Finally yet importantly, freedom to read is one of the reasons that oppose banning Of Mice and Men. According to the first Amendment, the government shall not intervene or prohibit the freedom of speech and press (“Cornell University Law School”). Long ago, the Founding Fathers had cherished freedom of humankind and they composed the Constitution to protect Americans’ freedom.
Liberty has followed the United States for centuries and helps leaders develop a stable political system. Hence, authorities have no rights to restrict what citizens should and should not read (“American Library Association”). One can draw conclusions based on what they read, but that person may never prevent others from reading that information. One can warn others about the impacts of information, but that person should respect the right to read of others. If authorities decide what Americans may or may not read, the United States will become a dystopia, where citizens have no freedom except to comply to the leaders.
Of course, no one wants that to happen, not when the Fathers had sacrificed themselves for the freedom of their children, schools should not ban Of Mice and Men, for it is a powerful book that helps fix the society. Free reading is a significant process that enables creativity to expand and contributes to great inventions. When schools forbid Of Mice and Men, students drastically lose a huge opportunity to learn the meanings adorned perfectly in the book and sympathize with those who unfortunately fall into the same situation like George, Lennie, and other workers in the Great Depression.
Studying history is beneficial, but textbooks themselves sometimes do not reveal completely how tragic an event was. Since Steinbeck loved the people dearly, he frankly told their stories through Of Mice and Men, so that the world might be able to assist these poor people. After all, instead of censoring the novel, schools and libraries should pay respect and make the book accessible for Americans to be aware of their past.