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Should school children be allowed to read a subversive novel like The Grapes of...

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jb1d | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted April 9, 2013 at 10:25 PM via web

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Should school children be allowed to read a subversive novel like The Grapes of Wrath that seems to teach that there are times when American citizens must break the law?

 

“Sometimes the law can’t be foller’d no way,” says Pa.  Should school children be allowed to read a subversive novel like The Grapes of Wrath that seems to teach that there are times when American citizens must break the law?  Explain

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e-martin | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 3, 2013 at 4:35 PM (Answer #1)

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This question is asking for a subjective/opinion-based answer. One point that comes to mind regarding this subject is how much the ethos Pa's presents resembles the ethos of the Civil Rights movement. 

Some leaders of the Civil Rights movement suggested that obeying unjust laws is immoral. The goal of the movement was to change many of those laws in order to gain fair and equal treatment. 

Human dignity was at the heart of that movement and it is central to Pa's claim here as well. This idea might be an important one to consider in developing your own opinion on the question of whether or not this book is too subversive for young readers. 

Another question to consider is whether or not the book argues that criminal behavior is acceptable or whether is argues that certain laws are unjust and, in themselves, tantamount to crimes. The book may be seen as simply asking what the appropriate attitude is to take when one is faced by systematic injustice.

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