Why is Their Eyes Were Watching God banned?

Their Eyes Were Watching God has never actually been banned. In 1997, it was challenged in the Brentville, Virginia school district by a parent who objected to its sexual explicitness and obscene language. Reviewers ultimately judged the sexual content and language as reasonable by 1990s standards.

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In 1997, a parent of a student at Stonewall Jackson High School in Brentville, Virginia tried to have the novel banned from the school's advanced English classes, arguing that it was inappropriately sexually explicit and used obscene language. The book was ultimately not banned, but the objections reflect those that...

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In 1997, a parent of a student at Stonewall Jackson High School in Brentville, Virginia tried to have the novel banned from the school's advanced English classes, arguing that it was inappropriately sexually explicit and used obscene language. The book was ultimately not banned, but the objections reflect those that have been made repeatedly since the novel was published in 1937. The book has also been criticized for making Jane a light-skinned, high-caste Black woman and for what some have considered its casual approach to domestic abuse.

Those who evaluated whether the book should be banned in 1997 decided that the sexual content was tame by modern standards. Rape is alluded to, but never explicitly described. Reviewers judged that the artistic merits and historical importance of the work outweighed objections to its content.

Early critics, especially in the Black community, objected to the novel's lack of politics. Some also felt that the dialect rendered was disrespectful to Black people, making them sound ignorant, but Hurston was both Black herself and an ethnographer who had studied traditional Black culture and language.

Compared to other works of American literature, Their Eyes Were Watching God has come out relatively unscathed in the censorship wars. It has only been challenged once and has never actually been banned or struck from a school curriculum.

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