What is the theme of The Day They Burned the Books?

Expert Answers
jfwheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The theme of Nancy Garden's novel is that repression of both biological impulses and prevetion of social dissent will not work.

Jamie, the protagonist, is the editor of the school paper.  When her school makes the controversial decision to begin handing out condoms, Jamie pens an editorial in facor of the policy.  The backlash is almost immediate.  The new, conservative school board is outraged.  A group of fundamentalist parents is incensed.  Soon, the situation snowballs, becoming something like the Salem Witch Trials, in that little, or no, evidence is needed to convict.  Things escalate to the point that Health books are pulled out of classrooms and burned.  The school swim team captain is outed.  Lockers are defaced.  Jamie's faculty advisor is put on leave for his support of both Jamie's column and the condom policy.  Jamie is forced only to write bland columns for the paper.

The result of all this repression is that an underground paper is created, one where people can freely express their true feelings.  Jamie is just beginning to understand that she herself is gay.  The safe environment also allows the girl to accept her sexuality as she grows from the tentative question of "am I" to the surer thinking of "probably I am." 

Read the study guide:
Literature and Censorship

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question