1984 by George Orwell
Challenged/banned: Across the United States for violence, obscenity, and sexuality
After his arrest by the Thought Police for sexual relations with Julia: “How many times he had been beaten, how long the beatings had continued, he could not remember. Always there were five or six men in black uniforms at him simultaneously. Sometimes it was fists, sometimes it was truncheons, sometimes it was steel rods, sometimes it was boots. There were times when he rolled about the floor, as shameless as an animal, writhing his body this way and that in an endless, hopeless effort to dodge the kicks, and simply inviting more and yet more kicks in the ribs, his belly, on his elbows, on his shins, in his groin, in his testicles, on the bone at the base of his spine. There were times when it went on an on until the cruel, wicked, unforgivable thing seemed to him not that the guards continued to beat him but that he could not force himself into losing consciousness” (Orwell 240).
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Challenged/ banned for being profane, sexually explicit, unsuitable for the age group, and racist
When the main character, who is Native American, is talking to his friend who is a white kid about books: “’Yes, yes, yes, yes,’ Gordy said. ‘Now doesn’t that give you a boner?’ ‘I am rock hard,’ I said. Gordy blushed. ‘Well, I don’t mean boner in the sexual sense’, Gordy said. ‘I don’t think you should run through life with a real erect penis. But you should approach each book- you should approach life-with the real possibility that you might get a metaphorical boner at any point’” (Alexie 97).
The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
Challenged/ banned as unsuitable for young readers due to “toilet humor” and irreverent attitude
Removing their confiscated items from the Principal’s office: “The two boys opened the bottom file-cabinet drawer and took out their slingshots and skateboards. ‘Do you think we should bring anything else?’ asked Harold. ‘Yeah,’ said George. ‘Let’s bring the fake doggy doo-doo.’ ‘Good thinking,’ said Harold. ‘You just never know when fake doggy doo-doo is going to come in handy!’” (Pilkey 59).
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Challenged/banned for racism
From the chapter titled, “Why The Lynching Bee Failed”: “They swarmed up towards Sherburn’s house, a-whooping and raging like Injuns, and everything had to clear the way or get run over and trompled to mush, and it was awful to see. Children was heeling it ahead of the mob, screaming and trying to get out of the way; and every window along the road was full of women’s heads, and there was nigger boys in every tree, and bucks and wenches looking over every fence; and as soon as the mob would get nearly to them they would break and skaddle back out of reach. Lots of the women and girls was crying and taking on, scared most to death” (Twain 136).
“Niggers would come miles to hear Jim tell about it, and he was more looked up to than any nigger in that country. Strange niggers would stand with their mouths open and look him all over, same as if he was a wonder. Niggers is always talking about witches in the dark by the kitchen fire; but whenever one was talking and letting on to know all about such things, Jim would happen in and say, ‘Hm! What you know ‘bout witches?’ and that nigger was corked up and had to take a back seat” (Twain 5).
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
Challenged/banned as a challenge to Christianity and for being sexually explicit as well as inappropriate for young readers.
On puberty: “I went back into the house. I had to go to the bathroom. I was thinking about Moose and how I liked to stand close to him. I was thinking that I was glad he wasn’t a liar and I was happy that he cut our grass. Then I looked down at my underpants and I couldn’t believe it. There was blood on them. Not a lot – but enough. I really hollered, “Mom – hey Mom – come quick!” (Blume 147).
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Challenged/banned for being obscene, sexually explicit, and anti-Christian
The narrator ponders the loss he has suffered: “And then he died. He did not know he was dead. I would lie by him in the dark, hearing the dark land talking of God’s love and His beauty and His sin; hearing the dark voiceless-ness in which the words are the deeds, and the other words that are not deeds, that are just the gaps in people’s lacks, coming down like the cries of the geese out of the wild darkness in the old terrible nights, fumbling at the deeds like orphans to whom are pointed out in a crowd two faces and told, That is your father, your mother” (Faulkner 174).
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Challenged/ banned for being anti-Christian
Discovering that Robert – a man that is not her husband – will soon leave for Mexico, Edna realizes her infatuation for him: “For the first time she recognized anew the symptoms of infatuation which she felt incipiently as a child, as a girl in her earliest teens, and later as a young woman. The recognition did not lessen the reality, the poignancy of the revelation by any suggestion or promise of instability. The past was nothing to her; offered no lesson which she was willing to heed. The future was a mystery which she never attempted to penetrate. The present alone was significant; was hers, to torture her as it was doing then with the biting conviction that she had lost that which she had held, that she had been denied that which her impassioned, newly awakened being demanded” (Chopin 44).
Edna commits suicide by walking into the ocean: “The foamy wavelets curled up to her white feet, and coiled like serpents about her ankles. She walked out. The water was chill, but she walked on. The water was deep, but she lifted her white body and reached out with a long, sweeping stroke. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.
She went on and on. She remembered the night she swam far out, and recalled the terror that seized her at the fear of being unable to regain the shore. She did not look back now, but went on and on, thinking of the blue-grass meadow that she had traversed when a little child, believing that it had no beginning and no end.
Her arms and legs were growing tired” (Chopin 109).
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Challenged/ banned for being profane, sexually explicit, violent, unsuitable for age group, anti-Christian, and racist
Upon reconnecting with her long-time love, Paul D: “ Not quite in a hurry, but losing no time, Sethe and Paul D climbed the white stairs. Overwhelmed as much by the downright luck of finding her house and her in it as by the certainty of giving her his sex, Paul D dropped twenty-five years from his recent memory. A stair step before him was Baby Suggs’ replacement, the new girl they dreamed of at night and fucked cows for at dawn while waiting for her to choose” (Morrison 24).
Blubber by Judy Blume
Challenged/ banned for being profane, obscene, violent, and unsuitable for the age group
When the main character and her friends corner a girl they have been making fun of for being overweight: “ ‘Strip her, flenser!’ Wendy called. ‘Now! Then we’ll throw her cape out the window and she’ll have to walk down the hall in her blubbery birthday suit.’ ‘No!’ Linda said. ‘ Don’t you dare strip me!’ Caroline and Wendy grabbed hold of Linda’s arms and held her still. ‘Do your job,’ Wendy said. ‘Prove what a good flenser you are are.’ ‘Okay,’ I said, pulling off Linda’s cape. She had on a regular skirt and shirt under it. ‘Strip her some more!’ Wendy said, yanking up Linda’s skirt. ‘Hey…Blubber wears flowered underpants.’ ‘ Let go of me!’ Linda squirmed and tried to kick but Caroline grabbed her shirt and tugged until two buttons popped off. ‘She wears an undershirt!’ Caroline said. Linda started to cry. ‘Oh my …Blubber’s blubbering,’ Wendy said” (Blume 32-33).
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Challenged/ banned for being sexually explicit, anti-Christian, and morally corrupt
The Savage says, “’But isn’t it natural to feel there’s a God?’
Then the Controller says, ‘You might as well ask if it’s natural to do up one’s trousers with zippers […] you remind me of another of those old fellows called Bradley. He defined philosophy as the finding of bad reason for what one believes by instinct. As if one believed anything by instinct! One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them. Finding bad reasons for what one believes for other bad reasons—that’s philosophy. People believe in God because they’ve been conditioned to believe in God’” (Huxley 234-235).
Later on there is a graphic killing scene: “Like a madman, he was slashing at her with his whip of small cords.
Drawn by the fascination of the horror of pain and, from within, impelled by that habit of cooperation, that desire for unanimity and atonement, which their conditioning had so ineradicably implanted in them, they began to mime the frenzy of his gestures, striking at one another as the savage struck at his own rebellious flesh, or at that plump incarnation of turpitude writhing in the heather at his feet” (Huxley 256).
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Challenged/banned for being profane, obscene, sexually explicit, anti-Christian, and pro-homosexuality
Holden, when talking to his friend, Stradlater, about his date: “and then I tried to sock him, with all my might, right smack in the toothbrush, so it would split his goddam throat open. Only I missed” (Salinger 32).
When Holden owes two men money and is stuck in a hold up: “It wouldn’t have been so bad, I don’t think, if I hadn’t had just my goddam pajamas on’” (Salinger 56-57).
When Holden talks about having sex with a girl: “The thing is, most of the time when you’re coming pretty close to doing it with a girl- a girl that isn’t a prostitute or anything, I mean- she keeps telling you to stop. The trouble with me is, I stop. Most guys don’t. I can’t help it. You never know whether they really want you to stop, or whether they’re just scared as hell, or whether they’re just telling you to stop so that if you do go through with it, the blame’ll be on you, not them” (Salinger 122).
Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
Challenged/ banned for being sexually explicit and morally corrupt
Talking about a novel that someone’s father used to read: “The novel was about the end of the world in the year 2000, and the name of the book was 2000 A.D. It told about how mad scientists made a terrific bomb that wiped out the whole world. There was a big sex orgy when everybody knew that the world was going to end, and then Jesus Christ Himself appeared ten seconds before the bomb went off” (Vonnegut 9-10).
A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer
Challenged/ banned for depictions of child abuse
When talking about the abuse his mother put him through: “’You’ve made my life a living hell!’ she sneered. ‘Now it’s time I showed you what hell is like!’ Gripping my arm, Mother held it in the orange-blue flame. My skin seemed to explode from the heat. I could smell the scorched hairs from my burnt arm. As hard as I fought, I could not force Mother to let go of my arm. Finally I fell to the floor, on my hands and knees, and tried to blow cool air on my arm” (Pelzer 41).
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
Challenged/banned : Across the United States in secondary schools as inappropriate for age group; sexually explicit; profanity; and violence; depiction of masturbation
At a Catholic high school where one student is blackmailing another: “The tone of their conversation had been light, bantering, but Archie knew that Emile was deadly serious underneath. Archie also knew that Janza would be willing to practically murder him in his sleep to get his hot hands on the picture. And the terrible irony – there was no picture after all. Archie had merely taken advantage of a ridiculous situation. What happened was this: Archie had cut class and glided through the corridor, evading the brothers. Moving past an open locker, he’d spotted a camera dangling from one of the coat hooks. Automatically, Archie had taken the camera. He wasn’t a thief, of course. He figured he’d merely abandon it somewhere so that the owner, whoever he was, would have to chase around the school looking for it. Stepping into the men’s room to grab a quick smoke, Archie had pulled open the door to one of the stalls and confronted Janza sitting there, pants dropping on the floor, one hand furiously at work between his legs. Archie lifted the camera and pretended to take a picture, yelling, ‘Hold it’” (Cormier 99).
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Challenged/banned for being profane, sexually explicit, violent, pornographic, and morally corrupt
“So he did the strong-man on the devotchka, who was still screech screech screeching away in a very horrorshow four-in-a-bar, locking her rookers from the back, while I ripped away at this and that and the other, the others going haw haw haw still, and real good horrorshow groodies they were that then exhibited their pink glazzies, o my brothers, while I untrussed and got ready for the plunge. Plunging, I could sloshy cries of agony and this writer bleeding veck that Georgie and Pete held on to nearly got loose howling bezoomny with the filthiest of slovosthat I already knew and others he was making up” (Burgess 27).
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Challenged/banned for profanity, challenges to Christianity, drug use, violence
After reading a passage from unacceptable material aloud at a party: “’Go home and think of your first husband divorced and your second husband killed in a jet and your third husband blowing his brains out, go home and think of the dozen abortions you’ve had, go home and think of that and your damn Caesarian sections, too, and your children who hate your guts! Go home and think how it all happened and what did you ever do to stop it? Go home, go home!’ he yelled. ‘Before I knock you down and kick you out the door!’” (Bradbury 101).
Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
Challenged/banned for being profane, violent, and graphic
A group of soldiers has open-fired on one of their own platoons: “Doyle let the firing continue for a long time before calling out for us to cease fire” (Myers 102).
Later on, a soldier became angry with his commanding officer and threw a fake grenade when everyone was in the tent. Everyone dove to the floor and when they resurfaced, they were all livid: “Peewee called him a faggot baboon dog, which was different” (Myers 109).
When a soldier pulls a grenade pin in the barracks: “Monaco smiled, lifted the armed grenade high over his head, and flipped in toward Brunner. Everybody dove to the floor, screaming. I had tried to pull my bunk down over me. I heard myself screaming as if the noise I made would somehow cut off the impact of the grenade. PeeWee was on the floor near me. He had one hand over his head and his helmet on his rear end. […] ‘The next time I am going to toss you one with the powder in it,’ he said to Brunner. ‘You’re a fucking kid! You’re a fucking kid!’ Brunner was screaming at the top of his lungs. ‘You call yourself a fucking soldier, but you’re a fucking kid!’” (Myers 109).
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
Challenged/banned for being profane, sexually explicit, violent, unsuitable for age group, and anti-Christian
Henry describes the tumultuous scene after a shelling occurs: “Outside the post a great many of us lay on the ground in the dark. They carried wounded in and brought them out. I could see a light come out from the dressing station when the curtain opened and they brought some one in or out. The dead were off to one side. The doctors were working with their sleeves up to their shoulders and were red as butchers. There were not enough stretchers. Some of the wounded were noisy but most were quiet” (Hemingway 56-57).
The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
Challenged/banned as anti-Christian and satanic
Galadriel speaking of dark magic: “’Many things I can command the mirror to reveal’, she answered, ‘and to some I can show what they desire to see. But the Mirror will also show things unbidden, and those are often stranger and more profitable than things which we wish to behold. What you will see, if you leave the Mirror free to work, I cannot tell. For it shows things that were, and things that are, and things that yet may be’” (Tolkien 353).
Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
Challenged/banned for being sexually explicit
“I moan once more into his mouth. I can hardly contain the riotous feelings—or are they hormones?—that rampage through my body. I want him so badly. Gripping his upper arms, I feel his biceps. He’s surprisingly strong…muscular. Tentatively, I move my hands up to his face and into his hair. It’s so soft, unruly. I tug gently, and he groans. He eases me toward the bed until I feel it behind my knees. I think he’s going to push me down on to it, but he doesn’t. Releasing me, he suddenly drops to his knees. He grabs my hips with both his hands and runs his tongue around my navel, then gently nips his way to my hipbone, then across my belly to my other hipbone” (James 113).
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
Challenged/banned for being profane, obscene, sexually explicit, violent, and pro-communist
“The captain, standing in the open beside the boulder, commenced to shout filth at the hilltop. There is no language so filthy as Spanish. There are words for all the vile words in English and there are other words and expressions that are used only in countries where blasphemy keeps pace with the austerity of religion. Lieutenant Berrendo was a very devout Catholic. So was the sniper. They were Carlists from Navarra and while both of them cursed and blasphemed when they were angry they regarded it as a sin which they regularly confessed” (Hemingway 342).
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Challenged/banned for being profane, sexually explicit, violent, unsuitable for age group, and morally corrupt
Larissa explains to Jonas where Roberto, an elderly man who lives in the community, has gone: “’I don’t know. I don’t think anybody does, except the committee. He just bowed to all of us then walked, like they all do, through the special door in the Releasing Room. But you should have seen his look. Pure happiness, I’d call it’” (Lowry 32).
Jonas describes a sexual dream he had: “’It was only be and Fiona, alone in the room, standing beside the tub. She was laughing. But I wasn’t. I was almost angry at her, in the dream, because she wasn’t taking me seriously.’
‘Seriously about what?’ Lily asked.
Jonas looked at his plate. For some reason that he didn’t understand, he felt slightly embarrassed. ‘I think I was trying to convince her that she should get into the tub of water’” (Lowry 35).
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
Challenged/ banned for being profane and unsuitable for the age group
“Billy smushed his face against mine, then grabbed my hair and made my head bend sideways and stuck his tongue in my mouth. It was slimy and disgusting, but when I tried to pull away, he pushed in toward me. The more I pulled, the more he pushed, until he was on top of me and I felt his fingers tugging at my shorts. His other hand was unbuttoning his own pants. To stop him, I put my hand down there, and when I touched it, I knew what it was, even though I had never touched one before” (Walls 86).
Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
Challenged/ banned for being profane, obscene, sexually explicit, and violent
When the main character is explaining how Sunday worship services go in the South: “Had he sinned? Had he been tempted? And the girl beside him, whose white robes now seemed the merest, thinnest covering for the nakedness of breasts and insistent thighs-what was her face like when she was alone with Elisha, with no singing, when they were not surrounded by the saints?” (Baldwin 17).
When Aunt Florence is recalling her life with her first husband Frank, who is a drunk and deadbeat: ‘Let me alone, Frank. I want to go to sleep.’ ‘No you don’t. You don’t want to go to sleep so soon. You want me to talk to you a little. You know how your baby loves to talk. Listen.’ And he brushed her neck lightly with his tongue. ‘ You hear that?’ He waited. She was silent. ‘ Ain’t you got nothing more to say than that? I better tell you something else.’ And then he covered her face with kisses; her face, neck , arms, and breasts. ‘You stink of whisky. Let me alone.’ ‘Ah. I ain’t the only one got a tongue. What you go to say to this?’ And his hand stroked the inside of her thigh. ‘Stop.’ ‘I aint going to stop. This is sweet talk, baby’” (Baldwin 87).
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Challenged/banned for use of racial epithets
Southern gentleman discussing slaves at another plantation with his own slaves: “ Is y’all aimin’ ter go ter Mist’ Wynder’s? ‘Cause ef you is, you ain’ gwine git much supper,” said Jeems. “Dey cook done died, an’ dy ain’ bought a new one. Dey got a fe’el han’ cookin’, an’ de niggers tells me she is de wustest cook in de state.’ ‘ Good God! Why don’t they buy another cook?’ ‘Huccome po’ w’ite trash buy any niggers? Dey ain’ never owned mo’n fo’ at de mostes’’” (Mitchell 17).
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Challenged/banned for being profane and sexually explicit
Tom Buchanan reveals his belief in white supremacy to Nick Caraway: “‘Civilization’s going to pieces,’ broke out Tom violently.
‘I’ve gotten to be a terrible pessimist about things. Have you read ‘The Rise of the Colored Empires’ by this man Goddard?’
‘Why, no,’ I answered, rather surprised by his tone.
‘Well, it’s a fine book, and everybody ought to read it. The idea is if we don’t look out he white race will be – will be utterly submerged. It’s all scientific stuff; it’s been proved’” (Fitzgerald 12-13).
After Tom breaks his mistresses’ nose, a boozy Nick departs with Mr. McKee. They descend the elevator, and the narration flashes forward to what seems to be a drunken hookup between the two men: “…I was standing beside his bed and he was sitting up between the sheets, clad in his underwear, with a great port-folio in his hands.
‘Beauty and the Beast . . . Loneliness . . . Old Grocery Horse . . . Brook’n Bridge . . . .’
Then I was lying half asleep in the cold lower level of the Pennsylvania Station, starting at the morning Tribune, and waiting for the four o’clock train” (Fitzgerald 38).
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Challenged/banned being profane, obscene, sexually explicit, unsuitable for the age group, anti-Christian, and morally corrupt
In this scene, a woman is at the doctor’s office to have a routine check-up and the doctor offers to sleep with her and get her pregnant. “[…] is that his hand, sliding up my leg? He’s taken off the glove. ‘The door’s locked. No one will come in. They’ll never know it isn’t his.’ He lifts the sheet. The lower part of his face is covered by the white gauze mask, regulation. Two brown eyes, a nose, a head with brown hair on it. His hand is between my legs” (Atwood 60).
Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher
Challenged/ banned for being profane, sexually explicit, anti-Christian, and pornographic
A young girl in therapy writes a letter to a friend describing situations she has heard other people talk about: “There’s a boy here who was shut up in his closet when he was three years old with his puppy that his stepdad killed. He was there for at least a day but probably it was longer. And there’s a girl here who watched her dad kick her little brother to death from a place under the stairs where he couldn’t see her, and she still hates herself for not stopping him, but she was only six” (Crutcher 175-176).
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Challenged/ banned for being violent, unsuitable for the age group, anti-Christian, and morally corrupt
Harry, when alone with his professor who has embodied the main villain of the story: “ Lord Voldemort showed me how wrong I was. There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to see it…Since then, I have served him faithfully, although I have let him down many times. He has to be very hard on me” (Rowling 167).
When Harry receives his school list of required equipment: “ Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry: ‘UNIFORM: First-year students will require: 1. Three sets of plain work robes (black) 2. One plain pointed hat (black) for day wear 3. One pair of protective gloves (dragon hide or similar) 4. One winter cloak (black, silver fastenings) Please note that all pupils’ clothes should carry name tags
Course Books: All students should have a copy of each of the following: The Standard book of Spells (Grade 1) by Miranda Goshawk, A History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot , Magical Theory by Adalbert Waffling, A Beginners’ Guide to Transfiguration by Emeric Switch, One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi by Phyllida Spore, Magical Drafts and Potions by Arsenius Jigger, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander, The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection by Quentin Trimble
Other Equipment: 1 wand, 1 cauldron (pewter, standard size 2), 1 set glass or crystal phials, 1 telescope, 1 set brass scales. Students may also bring an owl OR a cat OR a toad.
Parents are reminded that first years are not allowed on their broomsticks” (Rowling 66-67).
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
Challenged/ banned for being violent, unsuitable for the age group, anti-Christian, and morally corrupt
After the students attend the Halloween party on campus, they come upon the schools caretakers’ cat who has been hung in the hallway: “Something was shining on the wall ahead. They approached slowly, squinting through the darkness. Foot-high words had been daubed on the wall between two windows, shimmering in the light cast by the flaming torches. THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS HAS BEEN OPENED. ENEMIES OF THE HEIR, BEWARE” (Rowling 138).
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Challenged/ banned for being violent, unsuitable for the age group, anti-Christian, and morally corrupt
When talking about the criminal mastermind of the wizarding world: “ He murdered thirteen people?” said Harry, handing the page back to Stan, “with one curse?” (Rowling 38).
Harry taking an exam before noticing something was wrong with his professor: “Her eyes started to roll. Harry sat there in a panic. She looked as though she were going to have some sort of seizure. He hesitated , thinking of running to the hospital wing-and then Professor Trelawney spoke again, in the same harsh voice, quite unlink her own: ‘The dark lord lies along and friendless, abandoned by his followers. His servant has been chained these twelve years. Tonight, before midnight ….the servant will break free and set out to rejoin his master. The dark lord will rise again with his servan'ts aid, greater and more terrible than ever he was. Tonight…before midnight…the servant…will set out…to rejoin…his master…’ Professor Trelawney’s fell forward onto her chest. She made a grunting sort of noise. Harry sat there, staring at her. Then, quite suddenly, Professor Trelawney’s head snapped up again” (Rowling 324).
When Harry is trying to save his godfather who was a falsely committed criminal: “ ‘ No- no-‘ Harry gasped. ‘ He’s innocent… expect-expecto patronum-‘ He could feel them watching him, hear their rattling breath like an evil wind around him. The nearest dementor seemed to be considering him. Then it raised both its rotting hands-and lowered its hood” (Rowling 384).
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Challenged/ banned for being violent, unsuitable for the age group, anti-Christian, and morally corrupt
“You were the seventh Horcrux, Harry, the Horcrux he never meant to make. He had rendered his soul so unstable that it broke apart when he committed those acts of unspeakable evil, the murder of your parents, the attempted killing of a child. But what escaped from that room was even less than he knew. He left more than his body behind. He left part of himself latched to you, the would-be victim who had survived” (Rowling 709).
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
Challenged/banned for being obscene, sexually explicit, violent, anti-Christian, and depicting drug use and homosexuality
“It was the Master. As Lyra held her breath, she saw the servant’s daemon (a dog, like all servants’ daemons) trot in and sit quietly at his feet, and then the Master’s feet became visible too, in the shabby black shoes he always wore” (Pullman 4).
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
Challenged/ banned for being profane, obscene, sexually explicit, violent, unsuitable for the age group, anti-Christian, and morally corrupt
Magical Realism holds ties to the Latin American culture in which characters accept the unbelievable with calm rationality. Clara’s ability to see unexplainable things ties into magical realism in that she creates an alternate reality. Clara’s visions seem to violently increase in oddity throughout the novel.
“Dreams were not the only thing that Clara read. She could also predict the future and recognize people’s intentions, abilities that she maintained throughout her life and that increased with time” (Allende 76).
Ferula’s mother dies, leaving Ferula alone and too old to marry. When Clara welcomes Ferula into her home, Ferula began to passionately care for Clara to the point that she is jealous of Clara’s husband and Ferula’s brother Estaban: “Every night, when the married couple retired to their rooms, she was overwhelmed by a particular hatred she could not explain, which filled her soul with regret” (Allende 98).
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Challenged/banned for being profane, sexually explicit, unsuitable for the age group, racist, and pro-homosexuality
“In our society, where two-legged, two-armed strong Black men were able at best to eke out only the necessities of life, Uncle Willie, with his starched shirts, shined shoes and shelves full of food, was the whipping boy and butt of jokes of the underemployed and underpaid. Fate not only disabled him but laid a double-tiered barrier in his path. He was also proud and sensitive. Therefore he couldn’t pretend that he wasn’t crippled, nor could he deceive himself that people were not repelled by his defect” (Angelou 11).
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Challenged/ banned for being profane, obscene, sexually explicit, and anti-Christian
A man and woman are having drinks and they end up drinking too much. “I poured her another and another; in fact, I poured us both quite a few. I was far away; it wasn’t happening to me or to her and I felt a certain confused pity which I didn’t wish to feel. Then she looked at me, her eyes bright behind narrowed lids and raised up and struck me where it hurt.”
‘Come on, beat me, daddy—you—you big black bruiser. What’s taking you so long?’ she said. ‘Hurry up, knock me down! Don’t you want me?’
I was annoyed enough to slap her. She lay aggressively receptive, flushed, her navel no goblet but a pit in an earth-quaking land, flexing taut and expansive. Then she said, ‘Come on, come on!’ and I said, ‘Sure, sure,’ looking around wildly and starting to pour the drink upon her and was stopped, my emotions locked, as I saw her lipstick lying on the table and grabbed it, saying, ‘Yes, yes,’ as I bent to write furiously across her belly in drunken inspiration: SYBIL, YOU WERE RAPED BY SANTA CLAUS SURPRISE and paused there, trembling above her, my knees on the bed as she waited with unsteady expectancy” (Ellison 511).
Jazz by Toni Morrison
Challenged/ banned for being profane, obscene, sexually explicit, unsuitable for the age group, and depicting sexual abuse
Joe Trace has killed Alice Manfred’s niece, Dorcas, and his wife attended the funeral. This is Alice’s reaction to the situation: “His wife had come right in the funeral to nasty and dishonor her. She would have called the police after both of them if everything she knew about Negro life had made it even possible to consider” (Morrison 74).
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
Challenged/ banned for being profane, obscene, violent, and not suitable for the age group
When the main characters husband comes home drunk: “’They’re laughing at me. That’s what’s wrong. They say, ‘Ha, ha. Dumb Daniel. He’s got a wife and he can’t mate her. Ha.’ He pulled her to her feet and pressed his lips against her mouth. She pulled away. ‘We don’t have to,’ she cried. ‘They’re laughin’’, he repeated, and tore her dress from her shoulder” (George 102).
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Challenged/banned for being profane, depicting sexual abuse, and violence
Amir witnesses his best friend, Hassan, be sodomized by Assef: “Assef knelt behind Hassan, put his hands on Hassan’s hips and lifted his bare buttocks. He kept one hand on Hassan’s back and undid his own belt buckle with his free hand. He unzipped his jeans. Dropped his underwear. He positioned himself behind Hassan. Hassan didn’t struggle. Didn’t even whimper. He moved his head slightly and I caught a glimpse of his face. Saw the resignation in it. It was a look I had seen before. It was the look of the lamb” (Hosseini 75-76).
Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
Challenged/banned for being morally corrupt, sexual depictions, and profanity
Thought process lying in bed with her: “That was what I wanted: a woman who wanted me to fuck her. So I fucked her like a good un. And I think she despised me a bit, for being so pleased about it, and bringing her her breakfast in bed sometimes” (Lawrence 260).
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R.Tolkien
Challenged/banned for being anti-Christian
“‘Many things I can command the Mirror to reveal,’ she answered, ‘and to some I can show what they desire to see. But the Mirror will also show things unbidden, and those are often stranger and more profitable than things which we wish to behold. What you will see, if you leave the Mirror free to work, I cannot tell. For it shows things that were, and things that are, and things that yet may be. But which is it that he sees, even the wisest cannot always tell. Do you wish to look?’” (Tolkien 352).
My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
Challenged/banned for being profane, sexually explicit, and not suitable for the age group
When the mother of the main character who is a Loyalist and not a Patriot speaks against her son going to fight with the Patriots: “Betts stared at Mother. ‘Where’s your patriotism, woman?’ ‘Bah, patriotism. Your patriotism has got my husband in prison and one of my children out there in the rain and the muck shooting people and likely to be dead any minute, and my business half ruined. Go sell your patriotism elsewhere, I’ve had enough of it’” (Collier 149).
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
Challenged/banned for being sexually explicit, violent, unsuitable for the age group, pornographic, and morally corrupt
This quote is describing a scene about a male nurse in a psychiatric hospital: “[…] take him into the shower room, where they strip him and leave him shivering with the door open while they all three run grinning up and down the halls looking for the Vaseline. ‘We need that Vaseline,’ they’ll tell the Big Nurse, ‘for the thermometer.’ She looks from one to the other: ‘I’m sure you do,’ and hands them a jar holds at least a gallon, ‘but mind you boys don’t group up in there.’ Then I see two, maybe all three of them in there, in that shower room with the Admission, running that thermometer around in the grease till it’s coated the size of your finger, crooning, ‘Tha’s right, mothah, that’s right,’ and then shut the door and turn all the showers up to where you can’t hear anything but the vicious hiss of water on the green tile” (Kesey 15).
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky
Challenged/banned for being profane, sexuality explicit, anti-Christian, unsuitable for age group, and for depicting sexual abuse
Charlie talking about his sister and the boy she has been spending a lot of time with: “And I opened the door to the basement, and my sister and this boy were naked. He was on top of her, and her legs were draped over either side of the couch. And she screamed at me in a whisper. ‘Get out. you pervert.’”
When Charlie was in his room per his brother’s instructions, while his brother and sister were throwing a party: “That is except for this one couple. This one couple, whom I was told later were very popular and in love, stumbled into my room and asked if I minded them using it. I told them that my brother and sister said I had to stay here, and they asked if they could use the room anyway with me still in it. I said I didn’t see why not, so they closed the door and started kissing. Kissing very hard. After a few minutes, the boy’s hand went up the girl’s shirt, and she started protesting. ‘C’mon, Dave.’ ‘What?’ ‘The kids in here.’ ‘It’s okay.’ And the boy kept working up the girl’s shirt, and as much as she said no, he kept working it. After a few minutes, she stopped protesting, and he pulled her shirt off, and she had a white bra on with lace. I honestly didn’t know what to do at that point. Pretty soon, he took off her bra and started to kiss her breasts. And then he put his hand down her pants, and she started moaning. I think they were both very drunk. He reached to take off her pants, but she started crying really hard, so he reached for his own. He pulled his pants and underwear down to his knees. ‘Please. Dave. No’” (Chobsky 30-31).
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Challenged/banned for being profane, violent, and unsuitable for the age group
A Prayer for Own Meany by John Irving
Challenged/banned for being pornographic, offensive, and vulgar
Owen writes in his diary: “And look what we call ‘religion’: turn on any television on any Sunday morning! See the choirs of the poor and uneducated– and these terrible preachers, selling old Jesus-stories like junk food. Soon there'll be an evangelist in the White House; soon there'll be a cardinal on the Supreme Court. One day there will come an epidemic– I’ll bet on some humdinger of a sexual disease. And what will our peerless leaders, our heads of church and state. . .what will they say to us? How will they help us? You can be sure they won't cure us– but how will they comfort us? Just turn on the tv– and here's what our peerless leaders, our heads of church and state will say: They'll say, ‘I told you so!’ They'll say, ‘That's what you get for fucking around– told you not to do it until you got married.’ Doesn't anyone see what these simpletons are up to? These self-righteous fanatics are not ‘religious’ – their homey wisdom is not ‘morality’” (Irving 530-531).
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
Challenged/ banned for being obscene, unsuitable for the age group, and racist
While the main characters are chasing the bus: “Little Man, chest-deep in water, scooped up a handful of mud and in an uncontrollable rage scrambled up to the road and ran after the retreating bus. As moronic rolls of laughter and cries of ‘Nigger! Nigger! Mud eater!’ wafted from the open windows, Little Man threw his mudball, missing the wheels by several feet. Then, totally dismayed by what had happened, he buried his face in his hands and cried” (Taylor 48).
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Challenged/banned for being unsuitable for the age group
“Hurry on, the horses that pull the sun across the sky. A driver like Phaeton could instantly drive you west and usher in the night. Night, close your curtains and encourage love. Let romeo leap into my arms in secret. Lovers see well enough for romance. If love is blind, it is best suited for night. Come sober night and teach me to surrender my virginity to my husband, Conceal my inexperience. Cloak in black my blushing cheeks until I can overcome modesty and boldly perform loving acts. Come, night; come, Romeo. Illuminate our wedding night like snow on a raven’s back. Come, gentle night; come night of love. Give me my Romeo. And when he dies, cut him into little stars. Let him brighten the sky so all the world will love night and stop admiring the sun. Oh, I have bought the house of marriage, but have not moved in. I am committed to a husband, but he has not enjoyed me. This day drags like the hours preceding a festival. I feel like a fretful child who has new clothes but who can’t wear them. Oh, here comes my nurse. And she brings news. Every person who pronounces Romeo’s name speaks eloquently. Nurse, what news do you bring? What are you carrying. Is that the rope ladder that Romeo had you bring?” (Shakespeare 3.2.1-34)
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Challenged/banned for being profane, obscene, sexually explicit, unsuitable for the age group, and anti-Christian
The main character is a chaplain’s assistant in World War II, and recounts the filth that soldiers experienced: “To the guards who walked up and down outside, each car became a single organism which ate and drank and excreted through its ventilators. It talked or sometimes yelled through its ventilators, too. In went water and loaves of blackbread and sausage and cheese, and out came shit and piss and language” (Vonnegut 61).
The alien people who have been trained to see the human religion through a critical perspective unclouded by politics or beliefs: “The flaw in the Christ stories, said the visitor from outer space, was that Christ, who didn’t look like much, was actually the Son of the Most Powerful Being in the Universe. Readers understood that, so, when they came to the crucifixion, they naturally thought, and Rosewater read out loud again: Oh boy-they sure picked the wrong guy to lynch that time!” (Vonnegut 94).
The main character decides to buy books rather than attending the peepshow: “A sign in the there said that adults only were allowed in the back. There were peep shows in the back that showed movies of young women and men with no clothes on. It cost a quarter to look into a machine for one minute. There were still photographs of naked young people for sale back there, too. You could take those home” (Vonnegut 173).
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Challenged/ banned for being sexually explicit
A group of men get into an argument about a man who died and one of the white men says to the black man, “You stupid, man. Real stupid. Ain’t no law for no colored man except the one sends him to the chair” (Morrison 93).
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Challenged/ banned for being sexually explicit
Melinda recalling the night that she was raped: “We were on the ground. When did that happen? ‘No.’ No. I did not like this. I was on the ground and he was on top of me. My lips mumble something about leaving, about a friend who needs me, about my parents worrying. I can hear myself- I’m mumbling like a deranged drunk. His lips lock on mine and I can’t say anything. I twist my head away. He is so heavy. There is a boulder on me. I open my mouth to breathe, to scream, and his hand covers it. In my head, my voice is as clear as a bell: ‘NO I DON’T WANT TO!’ But I can’t spit it out. I’m trying to remember how we got on the ground and where the moon went and wham! Shirt up, shorts down, and the ground smells wet and dark and NO!- I’m not really here, I’m definitely back at Rachel’s crimping my hair and gluing on fake nails, and he smells like beer and mean and he hurts me hurts me hurts me and gets up
And zips up his jeans
And smiles” (Anderson 135-136).
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemmingway
Challenged/ banned for being profane, sexually explicit, and graphic
“Wonderful nigger. Looked like Tiger Flowers, only four times as big. All of a sudden everybody started to throw things. Not me. Nigger’d just knocked local boy down. Nigger put up his glove. Wanted to make a speech. Awful noble-looking nigger. Started to make a speech. Then local white boy hit him. Then he knocked white boy cold. Then everybody commenced to throw chairs. Nigger went home with us in our car. Couldn’t get his clothes. Wore my coat. Remember the whole thing now. Big sporting evening” (Hemingway 87).
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Challenged/ banned for profanity, references to sexual abuse, and racism
“Francis rose and sprinted down the catwalk to the old kitchen. At a safe distance he called, ‘He’s nothin’ but a nigger-lover!’” (Lee 94).
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
Challenged/ banned for being obscene, violent, not suitable for the age group, and anti-Christian
When the main character, Meg, talks to the creatures that are opposed to the dark side, and tries to recover her family from the dark side: “The foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called, but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are” (L’Engle 189).