To Kill a Mockingbird: A moral dilemma.


Sofia Bullard

Freshmen Rory Kohler and Sri Gazula debate the controversial status of novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Sofia Bullard, Editor-in-Chief

Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee illustrates a childlike perspective on contentious subjects. Its use of harmful racial stereotypes and derogatory language catalyzed by prejudice in 1930s Alabama sparks concerns regarding its placement in the freshmen curriculum. 

Should To Kill a Mockingbird be banned in schools? 

“It’s a complicated question. I do love the book, and 9th graders have been reading it for decades,” said Honors English teacher Nicole Malone. “[but] there are legitimate concerns, like does it show the Black experience? Does it negatively affect students of color?”

Opinions on author Harper Lee’s work often vary drastically from person to person, and teachers struggle to reach a consensus on this complicated issue.  

Other controversial texts, like The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, or The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger, prompt inquiries about what students should be exposed to in a high school setting. Should these books be taught? At what grade level should they be introduced? How do we measure the level of maturity required for novels exploring serious matters? 

“To me, it depends on how controversial the book is. If it educates people in the right way, then we should read it,” said freshman Sri Gazula. 

Though To Kill a Mockingbird was once deemed a revolutionary piece in the era of its publication, times are changing, and school curriculum should account for that. 

“I feel like banning [it] is okay because of the sensitive subjects,” said freshman Lily Palmer. “The school shouldn’t be forcing people to read it.” 

Whether or not you agree with To Kill a Mockingbird’s appearance in your 9th grade English class, its presence does encourage the use of critical thinking skills. Facing literature that causes uproar can often teach readers more about themselves and their own moral compass, even if you oppose its message.