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teeniebeenie6

Shocked that this book is on the Grade 11 common core reading list. Scary!

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At 16, I was living alone and working, in a country I didn't grow up in. In the years before that, I was "sexually abused" my my mother's partner. Yes, "sexual abuse" is a euphemism, but anything more graphic is apparently porn. Like the countless other sexual abuse survivors, I did not get any choice about being exposed to "this kind of thing", and didn't need it in my mind (or my body) either. 

 

The fact that many people are in deep denial about "this kind of thing" (including my mother, at the time), doesn't help victims. I haven't read this book, but now I am going to. I have read books with similar topics and found them very helpful to the healing process. People understanding victims is also conductive to the healing process, and understanding perpetrators can help people from becoming victims in the first place. 

 

I was sexually abused also. I also worked in the sex industry. I assure you I am not naive or in denial about ANY of it.

 

I still don't want to read details, and don't find it helpful to the healing process. Maybe if I was completely naive and ignorant, it would be helpful, but I doubt it. Like Chuckie said, I absolutely hate having all of these mental images stuck in my head. :(

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In your opinion. Most people, however, would recognize that children do a LOT of growing up during those two years, which is why our society does not allow 16 y.o.'s to marry, enlist in the military, set up their own households, etc. without special permission.

If you really think there is a huge development leap from 16-18 I am not sure what to tell you.

The fact that many states do allow 16yos to marry under certain circumstances, apply for emancipation, be tried as adults, etc should give you a bit of a hint that the different between 16-18 is quite small.

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Explicit descriptions may or may not "add value" to the book, but that's the choice the author made in telling this story. Art is weird, man. It's about conveying experiences and emotions. It's not quite a consumer product like a Chevy or a microwave, where power steering or the popcorn button make it that much more "valuable" in economic terms.

 

The "added value" of the explicit stuff? It might not be added value for the reader (consumer?) but it was valuable to Toni Morrison, and that's why it's there.

 

Well, just like "art". There are certain forms of art (or supposed art) that I would not waste time on studying (a crucifix in a jar of urine, etc). There are just some things that just should be left to individual pursuit and not forced within a class situation.

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I was sexually abused also. I also worked in the sex industry. I assure you I am not naive or in denial about ANY of it.

 

I still don't want to read details, and don't find it helpful to the healing process. Maybe if I was completely naive and ignorant, it would be helpful, but I doubt it. Like Chuckie said, I absolutely hate having all of these mental images stuck in my head. :(

 

I agree. There are many that are not in denial about this sort of thing, but still do not want the mental images in their heads. I have one friend whom a book like this would actually send her into a mental breakdown. She can't even watch historical genre films, such as The Patriot, Braveheart, North and South, etc. She's not in denial of the atrocities that happened, she is just one of those supersensitive souls that cannot handle seeing or reading anything beyond a certain level of graphic description. To have such forced upon her would be abuse.

 

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In 40+ years I am quite certain no (otherwise non-predatory) person has read this book and walked away thinking Cholly was a great guy or wanting to be like Cholly or copy his crimes. How a person can become what he became is an important question. A sanitized version of what he did (more than once) would not convey the same meaning and depth or reflect the true to life tragedy of what happens to Pecola at the hands of her parents and her community.

I get your point but I still see no need for high school students to be assigned books like this at all especially when there are tons of great books out there that speak of the good and the bad in life. I see no need to fill my kid's head with such graphic images nor my own since I have a hard time reading about such horrible events, being a sensitive person.

 

OTOH, I think one can teach children of the mindsets and the good and bad in life without such graphic details. For example, we have already discussed the mindset of ped0philes and child abusers with our child in ongoing conversations. We discussed about how Sandusky probably feels he did nothing wrong and probably even feels he loved his victims. We have discussed how perps like that groom their victims and pretend to be their friends. We have discussed other horrible situations that people grow up in as well. However, we have done all this without emphasizing the nitty gritty details. We have also emphasized how most folks are pretty good so as not to foster paranoia. I am not in favor of banning any books and I am sure these books have literary value, but I see no need to fill kids heads with these images when one can have conversations about these things without graphic images.

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If you really think there is a huge development leap from 16-18 I am not sure what to tell you.

The fact that many states do allow 16yos to marry under certain circumstances, apply for emancipation, be tried as adults, etc should give you a bit of a hint that the different between 16-18 is quite small.

As you pointed out, these minors have to apply for permission for the more adult aspects of life. It isn't a given at 16. The mind does a lot of growing and kids do a lot of maturing during those two years. In some few instances a 16-year old may be ready for more adult things. But not all. Hence the need to ask permission from either a parent or a court.

 

Those permissions are not an automatic either. One must prove a maturity level of an adult before these privileges are given.

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Reading is a very different beast to viewing. I've got no problem with my 14 year old reading the Game of Thrones books, but there's no way I'd let her lay eyes on the TV series.

 

I trust my kids to self-censor their reading, meaning that if they find a book too emotionally difficult or confronting, they generally put it aside for six months or so.

 

My 15 yr old has read much of Toni Morrison. She finds her books well-written and thought provoking but Morrison isn't one of her favourite authors. She's fine :)

 

How old are kids in 11th grade ? 16 ? 17 ?

 

 

Not for everybody. People like me who "see" a movie when they read don't need to bother with an actual video. We see it in our head as we read. There was very little difference in reading those excerpts and watching porn. Just that one is on a biological "screen" and one is on an electronic.

 

Exactly! Please see the thread where someone asked if they were weird for not being able to see mental images. Several of us are the extreme opposite. We SEE, SMELL, and sometimes even HEAR...we can near practically LIVE what we read in our mind as we're reading it. I literally get lost in a book, in words...I only see the printed words for a moment till I'm lost in them and see the visuals and don't even realise I'm reading the print of them. As a child and teenager, it took my mother or my teacher calling my name several times before I could come out of the book and hear them. I DON'T need that kind of experience with this kind of book. Redeeming Love was enough for me and didn't need graphic descriptions (Francine Rivers). Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts is another and it also did not go into graphic detail about the events.

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**fwiw I didn't read all the replies**

 

My parents didn't censor what I read at all, although I'm sure they would have not been happy had I brought home porno mags or such, neither were well read and I doubt they would have had a clue as to most books I read. I've read many of Tony Morrison's books and enjoyed them all, although I certainly found them disturbing as well. I'm generally a sensitive person and cannot stand to watch or listen to lots of things but the act of reading for me is different.

 

Like Tara and Dialectica I found reading such books to be a positive in my life. I became a social worker as well :) I'm sure my parents didn't want me to be exposed to the world's tragedies but I already knew of such things. This discussion reminds me of a quote by Chesterton:

 

“Fairytales don't tell children that dragons exist; children already know that dragons exist. Fairytales tell children that dragons can be killed.â€

― G.K. Chesterton

Yes, in books there is not always a happy ending but yet I found reading them to help me with empathy in a much more profound way. I found it to be a very safe way to learn about the harshness of the world. Reading stories and hearing how others, real and imagined, survived and made it through was very uplifting to me. I wish I was more eloquent and could explain my thoughts more but this is the best I can do, hopefully it makes some sense.

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I was sexually abused also. I also worked in the sex industry. I assure you I am not naive or in denial about ANY of it.

 

I still don't want to read details, and don't find it helpful to the healing process. Maybe if I was completely naive and ignorant, it would be helpful, but I doubt it. Like Chuckie said, I absolutely hate having all of these mental images stuck in my head. :(

I too was abused as a child (by a non-family member). I certainly don't want to read a romanticized version of bastard's sick reasoning of why he is sexually molesting or raping some little girl.

 

"Oh, I do it because I love her." WRONG F'ing answer. You do it because you are a sick sick sick bastard thinking only of yourself.

 

Okay. I have to leave now.

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I wasn't even necessarily addressing you or anyone else, just rashly typing out the thoughts I happened to associate with your comment, so again sorry. I understand everyone deals with healing differently and also that many find this topic too difficult to deal with. I'm not suggesting that any book should be compulsory reading and I think anyone who finds a particular book hard to deal with should have the possibility to stop reading, obviously including high schoolers. 

 

You have to agree, though, that there is a lot of denial around though, and that it would benefit everyone but especially victims if that could stop. Books like this could possibly play a role in that, right?

 

I agree, Chucki. :( It's very upsetting.

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You have to agree, though, that there is a lot of denial around though, and that it would benefit everyone but especially victims if that could stop.

 

I agree. I don't know the right way to go about doing this. I grew up with a lot of knowledge, too much, way too much. So descriptions like the ones in the book would be highly upsetting and triggering for me. It's hard for me to believe people can be so naive as to not know things like this happen to children- wayyyyy too often. But I guess they are out there. I'm not sure exposing these naive people to this kind of book would help.

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To the bolded-

Really?? No one ever said not to let kids read things remotely uncomfortable. This is UTTERLY disgusting stuff we are talking about. Do you think detailed stories of child rape are just "remotely uncomfortable?? I am horrified and appalled by child rape. The excerpts make me want to puke and so I can't imagine the other things in that book. And I will hope to God that child rape never ever "piques their interest."

I spoke of this particular book in the first paragraph where I refered to the passage as sick. In the second paragraph, the one you quoted, I was referring to banning books in general causing a child to be curious as to why they would not be allowed to read them, why others have the books on a suggested reading list, why they are in the reading list section of the library, and being curious enough to read them without permission. What would need to be included to cause a book to be uncomfortable enough to be banned? Many books typical to jr high have portions that might qualify. Is To Kill a Mockingbird out? If a play by Shakespeare doesn't have some raunchy lines then it is probably disturbing, so is he out? Is Gilgamesh out due to Enkidu and Shamat? Anyway, if a parent starts banning books, know that books with disturbing information will probably be covered in college when you will have no say and may not even be there for guidance. Like I said, there are lots of books- lots of reading lists even. Pick another book, but, if the focus is continually on banning books that deal with any topic that makes the parent uncomfortable, then a good chunk of the library may need to be off limits, the child may read things behind the parent's back and therefore without guidance, and in the end (if the child is never exposed to any disturbing literature) will the child be prepared to discuss those topics in a college classroom?

 

Again (is this the 3rd or 4th time I've said this in this thread), The Bluest Eye has been on reading lists and controversial for a very long time. In fact, its inclusion on the common core reading list is, in fact, common. I would expect to see it there and expect it to be controversial. However, I would be willing to bet that in light of all its years on other reading lists that this particular book will not be placed on teachers' required/ covered in class reading lists any more frequently than in years past. If any book causes this much concern from parents, imagine how concerned a teacher would be about covering it appropriately in class. Not many teachers want to take on all that and the concerned parents.

 

HTH-

Mandy

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No. This book includes a daughter being raped by her father, but that is not what the book is about, as has been explained here multiple times.

So this great book has a father graphically and with detail raping a child. This is literature? This is a pedos wet dream scene. Gimme Harry Potter any day.

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So this great book has a father graphically and with detail raping a child. This is literature? This is a pedos wet dream scene. Gimme Harry Potter any day.

 

Ah, yes, Harry Potter. A book about a mean family who makes their nephew live in a cupboard under the stairs. That pretty much sums up the story, right?

 

Personally, I am not going to base what is or is not considered acceptable on what the sickest among us may perversely enjoy. If I did, I'd never let my kids go barefoot lest a foot festishist see them and become aroused.

 

ETA: FWIW, I much prefer Harry Potter over The Bluest Eye. But I am not on board with people denouncing a widely accoladed work of literature as filthy, disgusting, and pornographic just because they can't stomach the disturbing scenes.

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THis is not literature.  THis is Satan getting into the minds and hearts of our children in a whole new way. Many of you keep mentioning your daughters...what about your sons reading this book?  I cannot for the life of me imagine any circumstance under which any human being should read this filth.

 

This book should not even be on the list.  And I'm sorry, but there are only about 20 books on the list to begin with for that age range, so it's likely that there is going to be pressure from the teachers to assign this book.  

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This book should not even be on the list.  And I'm sorry, but there are only about 20 books on the list to begin with for that age range, so it's likely that there is going to be pressure from the teachers to assign this book.  

 

As has been emphasized on this and the previous thread: None of the books are mandatory, nor does the list represent the entirety of choices. They serve as examples only.

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**fwiw I didn't read all the replies**

 

My parents didn't censor what I read at all, although I'm sure they would have not been happy had I brought home porno mags or such, neither were well read and I doubt they would have had a clue as to most books I read. I've read many of Tony Morrison's books and enjoyed them all, although I certainly found them disturbing as well. I'm generally a sensitive person and cannot stand to watch or listen to lots of things but the act of reading for me is different.

 

Like Tara and Dialectica I found reading such books to be a positive in my life. I became a social worker as well :) I'm sure my parents didn't want me to be exposed to the world's tragedies but I already knew of such things. This discussion reminds me of a quote by Chesterton:

 

 

Yes, in books there is not always a happy ending but yet I found reading them to help me with empathy in a much more profound way. I found it to be a very safe way to learn about the harshness of the world. Reading stories and hearing how others, real and imagined, survived and made it through was very uplifting to me. I wish I was more eloquent and could explain my thoughts more but this is the best I can do, hopefully it makes some sense.

 

 

I too was abused as a child (by a non-family member). I certainly don't want to read a romanticized version of bastard's sick reasoning of why he is sexually molesting or raping some little girl.

 

"Oh, I do it because I love her." WRONG F'ing answer. You do it because you are a sick sick sick bastard thinking only of yourself.

 

Okay. I have to leave now.

 

Fairytales don't put you inside the warped mind of the depraved. Good and evil are pretty clearcut rather than evil being romanticized inside a warped mind.

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As has been emphasized on this and the previous thread: None of the books are mandatory, nor does the list represent the entirety of choices. They serve as examples only.

 

 

I realize that.  It's not the point.  The point is, that it's so sick that it should not even be on the list OF EXAMPLES.  This is a society problem, not a COmmon Core problem.

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Fairytales don't put you inside the warped mind of the depraved. Good and evil are pretty clearcut rather than evil being romanticized inside a warped mind.

 

Yep.

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I realize that.  It's not the point.  The point is, that it's so sick that it should not even be on the list OF EXAMPLES.  This is a society problem, not a COmmon Core problem.

 

I thought (one of) your points was that there would be pressure to assign the book because there were only about 20 books on the list. I guess I'm just having trouble understanding people's points in this thread... they seem to keep shifting.

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IMO, I don't think many kids K-12 are ready for this sort of thing, but that is what I gather from interacting with local ps teens. I'm glad that there are people out there who can read these things and who can deal with it. Personally, I can't. A former co-worker of dh's is currently serving a 45 year sentence for raping his step-daughter and step-son, with the blessing of their own mother,I might add. When I see stuff like this, I can't handle it. I can't deal with it. We hung out at his house several times. He had been to our home, hung around our kids. It's very, very hard for me to imagine teenagers are capable of processing such graphic, from the POV of the perv, descriptions a mature, worthwhile way. Those types of teens would be the exception, I imagine, not the rule. So I have no problem with communities saying, hey, let's just nix this book. There are plenty of amazing works of literature to choose from. I don't think it should be banned altogether. I've never read it but I'm sure it is powerful and written very well and explores issues worth discussing. I think though that when a school/teacher/whatever wants to give this to minor children to read, the burden is on them to prove that the benefits outweigh the ugliness and the emotional burden they are placing on kids, not the other way around.

 

ETA: My dh coaches baseball at a local high school. He has kids that get suspended from baseball for two weeks because they are failing classes like Ceramics. Ceramics! Not because they aren't capable of making something, but because they can't be bothered to even show up for class. The other coaches say that all the teachers there would be happy to help the kids or even just pass them but when the kids don't even show up for class, the teachers have to fail them. These are the kids I guess I'm picturing being in these lit classes. I mean, if they can't even be bothered to show up for Ceramics, why do we think they will suddenly be capable of discussing such serious issues? I guess I'm not being fair to other kids but that's what I imagine. Lol

 

Actually a book like this might be exactly what those students need. Maybe they aren't going to ceramics because for them it is just a filler course they see no point in, but a book like this, presented in the right way with a good discussion might seem worthwhile to them.

 

When "The Color Purple" was part of a high school lit course I took, no one was giggling or learning new slang. It was well taught and we had several interesting and valuable discussions about it. I had a truly remarkable English teacher for all four years in high school. A lit class with her would generally have 1-2 book required per month, not per year. I think we give high schoolers too little credit/set the bar too low. If I had a teenager who giggled at that book, well, I'd be having more than a few difficult conversations with him or her. Sexual violence isn't humorous. Laughing at what happens in that book is depravity.

 

 

Was I fully mature at 16? Hells no. How exactly though do people mature? Through examining life and things that are not all sunshine and roses. I can attest that reading hard books is a nicer way to grow up than experiencing some of these hard situations (which a large number of adolescents have experienced). I was certainly not too immature at 14-17 (high school) to read authors like Morrison, Hurston, Walker and Allison. Are there 14-17 year old who are too immature? Sure. But there are plenty who are able to learn valuable lessons from difficult, adult level literature. I would personally consider a 16-17 year old not up to the task to be a bit behind where a college bound student should be reading level/maturity wise.

 

Ignorance of literature should not be conflated with innocence.

 

 

Reading about something, and reading about something in intense detail are a little different. Knowing the disgusting nature and having an understanding of what it is about is different than reading or hearing every little tiny detail of what is happening.

I got brave today, or perhaps somewhat foolish. I read the book. I went onto my kindle and got it wanting to read it while I had some quiet time this evening. Yes this books shows some things that need to be looked at, problems in our society that need to be seen. Over all I found it well written. I like that she came at it from numerous points, allowing people to see the back story and how these problems arise not from just one thing, but from numerous different things, from everyone around it. Problems from their past that were left undealt with and after festering contribute to perpetuating the abusive cycle. My problem is that she went much farther than that. Writing about s*x between a husband and wife in the extremely detailed and explicit words what more than I would recommend for any teenager. Is it necessary to talk about the sounds, movements, and sensations of the action for people to know exactly what is happening. I found it rather crude and rough and I am not overly sensitive when it comes to talking about s*x. These explicit 'scenes' are relatively frequent and somewhat unnecessary for a reader to understand what was happening in the book. They seem to be in there for the pleasure of talking about s*x, which I know seems to be rather popular, but not really something I would put on a recommended reading list for teenagers (I wouldn't ban it either, but I've said that in past posts).

 

I keep reading in the replies on here how sometimes details are needed for understanding. What strikes me as odd is that this much detail wasn't even needed when I had to talk to the police or to CPS. Yes detail, but not nearly like this. This much detail leaves a horrified fascination. I see no benefit in my kids hearing that. When they are older they will hear my story, but wording in the way this book worded it, makes it into another s*x act, not the degrading struggle for power that it is.

 

People have said on here, that those apposed to the book are apposed to something they won't even read, and have seemed to view that position as a show of ignorance. I've read the book, and after throwing up, I am more strongly apposed to it, despite the good writing in between all the s*x. I am not appalled that someone wrote it, or that someone would read it (after all I have just read it), I am somewhat appalled that it would be something that an adult would hand to a child and expect them to read it. On a recommended list perhaps, because then a person can pick and choose what they can handle, but in a classroom situation, it would be something that would have me well beyond just upset at the school.

 

I teach 10th, 11th an 12th grade English. None of my students would giggle at this book. Would they be shocked and appalled? Yes. But I also think we often underestimate teenagers capacity for understanding and empathy.

 

My students are mostly white middle class teens with very few traumatic events in their life. I think many of them need to see a different side of life. And I also think that they need to see how other people think, and other people do include those who have views that are disgusting. I would far rather they discover these thoughts in a classroom where they can be discussed and examined and counter arguments be applied, then when they meet monsters in real life.

 

Also, yes there is a difference between a 16 year old and an 18 year old. There is also a difference between 18 year old John and 18 year old James, which is why I would assign this book to one class but not another. Individuals matter as much in schools as they do in home schools and as a teacher it is my job to decide if this book is appropriate for one class.

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So this great book has a father graphically and with detail raping a child. This is literature? This is a pedos wet dream scene. Gimme Harry Potter any day.

 

Is it? Do you have something to back that up? Is this is a big book with "pedos"?

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My big boys are now 19yo and 22yo, so I have no vote in what they read or what a college professor assigns them to read. Neither of my big boys read this particular book while in high school. There are plenty of other books to read. (My issue is with banning books.) I would have, would have had, no problem with them reading The Bluest Eye. I would expect for the topics to horrify them and what it all says about American society to disturb them.

 

Uhhhm- I do enjoy Harry Potter, but at some point a student should probably be required to read books that are more, hmm, higher reading level, mature topics. ;)

Mandy

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Actually a book like this might be exactly what those students need. Maybe they aren't going to ceramics because for them it is just a filler course they see no point in, but a book like this, presented in the right way with a good discussion might seem worthwhile to them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I teach 10th, 11th an 12th grade English. None of my students would giggle at this book. Would they be shocked and appalled? Yes. But I also think we often underestimate teenagers capacity for understanding and empathy.

 

My students are mostly white middle class teens with very few traumatic events in their life. I think many of them need to see a different side of life. And I also think that they need to see how other people think, and other people do include those who have views that are disgusting. I would far rather they discover these thoughts in a classroom where they can be discussed and examined and counter arguments be applied, then when they meet monsters in real life.

 

Also, yes there is a difference between a 16 year old and an 18 year old. There is also a difference between 18 year old John and 18 year old James, which is why I would assign this book to one class but not another. Individuals matter as much in schools as they do in home schools and as a teacher it is my job to decide if this book is appropriate for one class.

 

There are other, better books that expose them and open them for discussion without the graphic imagery of the inside of someone's warped psychological state.

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I don't think I'd allow my sons to read it. I find those excerpts completely repulsive.

 

But, it would depend on the quality of the teacher, the maturity of the other kids in the class, and the maturity of my son at the time the book was assigned.  

 

 

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There are other, better books that expose them and open them for discussion without the graphic imagery of the inside of someone's warped psychological state.

 

Better is a value word. Better how? Better for what group of teenagers. Have you ever stood in front of a group of teenagers who have never read a book? I am not saying this is the book I would pick for them, but the passages that have been linked here and in the other thread would certainly get their attention. In a world where getting their attention is my first hurdle I will look at anything.

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I would not read it myself and would never let my kids read it while they were under my roof. I will never see a reason to read something like that. ever.

 

 

:iagree:

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Better is a value word. Better how? Better for what group of teenagers. Have you ever stood in front of a group of teenagers who have never read a book? I am not saying this is the book I would pick for them, but the passages that have been linked here and in the other thread would certainly get their attention. In a world where getting their attention is my first hurdle I will look at anything.

 

Yes, I have. And this is still not a book I would choose for them.

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I would allow a 16-17 year old to read anything they desired. If I really want them to read it I will forbid them to read it.

 

 

Seriously, these are teens on the verge of adulthood. Many of whom will be living on their own or going away to college in a year. It is not the time to lock them in a crib.

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I would allow a 16-17 year old to read anything they desired. If I really want them to read it I will forbid them to read it.

 

 

Seriously, these are teens on the verge of adulthood. Many of whom will be living on their own or going away to college in a year. It is not the time to lock them in a crib.

 

I fail to see how not handing out this book equals locking them in a crib. To teach my kids that there is evil in the world is a necessary thing for them to be able to understand and function as the adult that they are on the verge of being. To paint mental, sexual pictures in their mind for them with words this explicit and descriptive doesn't serve any purpose even in an adults life. That's not ignoring things, or pretending evil things don't happen, it's just learning that some pictures are not healthy to have in anyone's mind. I can barely handle life with them in mine because I've lived it, why would I purposely put them in anyone elses. Not to mention, using words the way she does, leaves a grotesque fascination with it. As a teenager I would've read those scenes a dozen times, not because I thought they were funny, or sexy in the usual sense of the word, but because they were so sexually fascinating. They aren't horrifying in that book. Not written that way.

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It's so surprising to me that so many people in this thread are questioning the point of literature showing evil.  Evil is probably the oldest literary theme around.  Sometimes art makes us think by making us uncomfortable.

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I would allow a 16-17 year old to read anything they desired. If I really want them to read it I will forbid them to read it.

 

 

Seriously, these are teens on the verge of adulthood. Many of whom will be living on their own or going away to college in a year. It is not the time to lock them in a crib.

 

The reality is, this will most likely not even be on most of our radar, had we not entered into this discussion. I seriously doubt any of my children will be pining away to read Toni Morrison, or this book in particular, so it most likely won't even come up. If it did, I would not "ban" them from it, or "lock them in a crib."

 

There is a big difference between having a discussion about a book that many of us find unnecessarily disturbing and graphic, and "locking ourselves away in a crib."

 

 

It's so surprising to me that so many people in this thread are questioning the point of literature showing evil.  Evil is probably the oldest literary theme around.  Sometimes art makes us think by making us uncomfortable.

 

The question is not about showing evil. That is never what this has been about. We are not locking ourselves in a crib, hiding away, naive, special snowflakes, or anything of the sort. So you all can stop with the patronizing insults. The issue is about depicting graphic sexual acts against children in extreme detail. Many of us find sharing details like that in a NOVEL, not in a courtroom, not on a witness stand, but in a NOVEL, unnecessary and disturbing.

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I watched SVU on tv starting when I was about 12. That's about rape, often times explicitly described and even depicted, yet I don't think most of you would consider that pornography.

Just because your parents allowed you to consume age-inappropriate media as a child does not mean that the rest of us should do the same, nor that teachers should assign books with explicit content to 16 y.o.'s.

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The question is not about showing evil. That is never what this has been about. We are not locking ourselves in a crib, hiding away, naive, special snowflakes, or anything of the sort. So you all can stop with the patronizing insults. The issue is about depicting graphic sexual acts against children in extreme detail. Many of us find sharing details like that in a NOVEL, not in a courtroom, not on a witness stand, but in a NOVEL, unnecessary and disturbing.

 

But this is exactly what I said.  It's weird to me that so many people are questioning that art should ever show evil.  Art like novels.  I think that's one of the main purposes of art - to make people think and question and form opinions about things.

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Since there seems to be such wonder equivalent works that are less graphic, anyone care to share titles?

 

Above, someone posted a link to a list of "the best" incestuous relationships in literature.  Not all are violent like this one though.  They included Oedipus, Ovid's Metamorphoses, Moll Flanders, and The Color Purple.  There are even more books about rape, of course...  To Kill a Mockingbird, for example.  I would submit though that part of the art is it being graphic, as has been said.  Part of the point is to arouse these feelings of anger and disgust in a way that a book like To Kill a Mockingbird (albeit a wonderful, thought-provoking book) does not do.

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Words like filth, trash, and pedos wet dream are just unbelievable insulting. This is TONI MORRISON!! A great American author who writes about the black American experience. I swear, when I read some of these comments, it makes me embarrassed to tell people I homeschool.

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Words like filth, trash, and pedos wet dream are just unbelievable insulting. This is TONI MORRISON!! A great American author who writes about the black American experience. I swear, when I read some of these comments, it makes me embarrassed to tell people I homeschool.

 

God help us. I'm done.

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My students are mostly white middle class teens with very few traumatic events in their life.

Exactly why I feel it would be better to wait until college to assign books with "mature" content, when the students have had more life experience & are in a position to get more out of the novel. It's actually rather patronizing to appropriate the pain of those whose lives have been far more difficult- kind of like the Roberta Flack song "Killing Me Softly".

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The point of The Bluest Eyes isn't just the incestuous relationship. A book on tragic family relationships and/ or sexuality or awakenings and a book about the African American experience or another minority living with American norms of beauty projected (or what is prefered) in fashion, literature, and IRL situations and the impact that has on their lives.

 

Let me think on that one.

Mandy

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The point of The Bluest Eyes isn't just the incestuous relationship. A book on tragic family relationships and/ or sexuality or awakenings and a book about the African American experience or another minority living with American norms of beauty projected (or what is prefered) in fashion, literature, and IRL situations and the impact that has on their lives.

 

Let me think on that one.

Mandy

Summer of My German Soldier? Maybe this could be used as a gentle intro to some of these topics.

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Not the sexual aspect theme, but Summer of My German got me thinking that maybe Farewell to Manzanar could be used for some of these themes.

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Summer of My German Soldier? Maybe this could be used as a gentle intro to some of these topics.

That was one of my favorites in 8th grade.

 

Soror mentioned the Chesterton quote. I asked in the other thread how this book ends but didn't get an answer so I'm still curious! I don't oppose mature themes in books but I do care greatly about how those themes are presented. Is there any justice for this poor girl in the end? Is there any hope or salvation? I don't mind tough themes as long as there is hope somewhere. Hopelessness isn't my reality and that is what gets me the most when I read something. If the author is coming from a pov of hopelessness, then I just can't bear to read it. I hate it. I think that is what Chesterton was getting at. Evil can be overcome. So will someone clue me in on how this book ends or will I just have to read it for myself? :-)

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I haven't read this one, but Black Like Me would address being an African American in American society. It is the late fifties so a later date and male instead of female, but maybe it would work.

 

Also, I certainly think of Summer of My German Soldier and Farewell to Manzanar as being for a younger audience, but isn't it Black Like Me intended for an older audience?

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I would submit though that part of the art is it being graphic, as has been said.  Part of the point is to arouse these feelings of anger and disgust in a way that a book like To Kill a Mockingbird (albeit a wonderful, thought-provoking book) does not do.

Asking sincere questions here: If part of the point is to arouse feelings of anger and disgust (which I agree is a valid purpose), do you equally approve of viewing/studying a visual depiction of these acts, such as a museum-quality painting or illustration (not photography - see below)? If so, would you consider it appropriate material for a high school art class? And I am referring only to explicit, graphic child rape, not murder or adult rape, both of which I realize are historically well represented within the world of fine visual art.

 

Please understand - I'm dead serious. I've thoughtfully considered a lot of things since this came up yesterday - some of which I will try to post when I have more time to get my head together, and this thought occurred to me last night. Is there a meaningful difference? I'm not sure. And again, I am asking a sincere question because I really don't know what people will say, and I'm honestly willing to consider their point of view, whether or not I end up agreeing with it. I think this is a fascinating discussion about art and culture.

 

[One important clarification: Obviously photography is not the same thing since it would have to involve an actual child (unless it's photoshopped, etc). I don't even know if a photoshopped image would be legal - probably not, though my assumption (based in ignorance, admittedly) is that child porn is illegal only because it exploits the child(ren) involved, not because of the image itself. ???]

 

I can't talk to DH (a professionally-trained fine artist) since he's unavailable for chit-chat until tomorrow night, but I am curious about his point of view on this particular issue as well.

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I haven't read the book. And I haven't participated in this discussion. However, I have a few thoughts. It doesn't seem to me that the actual subject matter is what is objectionable, but rather the graphic nature of the acts that are described. I read those excerpts. They are disgusting. I can see no possible reason why they add to the content of the story. But, as has been mentioned, art is in the eye of the beholder. So, I'm not going to go into the argument of upholding the ideals of truth and beauty. However, those passages reminded me a lot of the trashy p0rn novels that we passed around secretly in junior high. And after reading those trashy p0rn passages, those words were stuck in my head forever. And I didn't want them there, but it was too late. Sure, I was young and innocent in junior high, and, sadly enough, I realize all high schoolers are not innocent, and all that but there might be a few who have purposed to keep their minds and bodies pure and for a teacher to say this is required reading...... that's wrong.

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There is nothing gentle about sexual assault. Part of the reason books like this have been meaningful to me as a survivor is that I do not feel that something I am all too familiar with is being glossed over, watered down or trivialized. Or at the crux of it, made palatable for others. It's not palatable. It shouldn't be easy to read about. It shouldn't be minimized or hidden so that people can live easy comfortable lives. Life is neither easy or comfortable for the vast majority of humans. I know that there is a diversity of opinion on the matter from those who are sexual assault survivors and I don't presume to tell others they should feel as I do, but that is my personal experience and personal opinion which is not formed in the abstract or without really reading the material. I was deeply benefited by a high quality study of difficult modern American literature as a "child" of 14-17. I do see that there are students that same age who are not up to the task and as a mom, I understand why anyone would be cautious about when/if their particular child read a book with such content. But there are, IME, plenty of students that are ready for this type of material before they cross the 18 threshold.

 

Toni Morrison is not VC Andrews or Twilight or some pulp erotica author. Her books explore the profound and complex, not the popular or simple. To call a Nobel Laureate's work "trash", "filth", "porn" and "wet dreams" is disgusting. It's impossible to have a valuable conversation on those very dumbed down, simplest possible terms.

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If the author is coming from a pov of hopelessness, then I just can't bear to read it. I hate it. I think that is what Chesterton was getting at. Evil can be overcome. So will someone clue me in on how this book ends or will I just have to read it for myself? :-)

:( her mother doesn't believe her and beats her she becomes pregnant the baby is born premature and dies she looses her mind and thinks she has blue eyes :(

 

The father does die though

 

This is not a kiddie book. There is no happily ever after.

Mandy

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My memory of the book (again, about 20 years since I've read it) is not of the assault. It's that her self hatred goes so deep that she wants SOME part of her to have white characteristics (the dominant culture that she sees...we had a conversation about this that also went south on the chat board a week or so ago with the discussion of white privilege). She imagines that if she could have blue eyes even, her life would be better.

 

The excerpt that has some people up in arms didn't stand out for me when reading the book. Again, the danger with cherry picking.

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