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In principle I agree with those who have argued that there should be no banning of any reading materials in the United States. As someone says above, banning of books seems to be expressly prohibited by the very first amendment to the Constitution. Inevitably, however, restrictions are placed on some kinds of speech in some contexts. The classic example is that one is prohibited from yelling "fire!" in a crowded theater. Similarly, teachers are not permitted toteach pornographic texts in elementary schools (or in too many other schools, for that matter). The ideal of totally free speech, then, has always been more an ideal than a practical reality.
Having said all that, I would still strongly argue that The Awakening should not be banned. Here are some reasons why:
* The novel is clearly a work of sophisticated art; it has genuine artistic merit and would therefore definitely be a form of constitutionally protected speech.
* The novel is obviously also a thought-provoking book that stimulates intellectual reflection. It therefore has "redeeming social value" and is, for that reason, a form of constitutionally protected speech.
* The novel reflects an important stage in American history and important issues in that history and for that reason, too, has redeeming social value.
* Nothing in the novel is excessively or unacceptably violent or sexual (two standard reasons for wanting to ban books). Violence in the book is practically non-existent, and erotic encounters are described in very tame language (at least by today's standards). Consider this passage from Chapter 28:
She felt as if a mist had been lifted from her eyes, enabling her to took upon and comprehend the significance of life, that monster made up of beauty and brutality. But among the conflicting sensations which assailed her, there was neither shame nor remorse. There was a dull pang of regret because it was not the kiss of love which had inflamed her, because it was not love which had held this cup of life to her lips.
Far more explicitl situations are seen daily on televised soap operas. If they are not banned, The Awakening should not be banned.
* Finally, even if a person somehow did take offense at something in The Awakening, that is still no reason to ban the book. Here are some reasons why:
* If someone is offended by The Awakening, that person has the right not to read the book. That person does not have the right to prevent others from reading it.
* Anyone who believes that The Awakening should be banned must greatly lack confidence in his or her own ideas. If The Awakening is somehow considered a bad influence, that argument should be openly made. The book should be challenged, not banned; it should be debated, not outlawed. The book should not be officially suppressed.
Why it shouldn't be banned? This shouldn't be a point of discussion. Banning anything is patently Unconstitutional in the US (read Amendment 1)...isn't it? Let every written work be published as the author intended, and let the readers judge. Works stand or fall by their own merit. If you don't like what a book says, if you feel it too upsetting or feel offended by it, if you find it too racy or believe it 'corrupts the youth,' don't buy it, don't read it, convince others not to read it, don't check it out of your library and keep it away from your kids. Or better yet, write one rebutting it.
This story was written and published before women in the United States had the right to vote. Women were expected to be pretty, silent, and run the household efficiently without complaint. They were expected to serve their husbands without resentment...check out the sit-coms of the 50's in the US...all the women wore pearls and skirts while mopping the floor and made sure the house was clean, supper was on the table, and the pipe and slippers were ready for their husbands who worked so hard all day. Bah! "The Awakening" is among many works that awakened women all over the place to the fact that there is more to life than indentured servitude and domestic slavery. Aside from the ideas of independent women who are clever and able to write and express creative and thought-provoking ideas, she commits suicide at the end of the story. This is still considered a huge no-no and we've been reading Chopin's story for over one hundred years.
Kate Chopin's "The Awakening" was published in 1899, when women were expected to be dedicated wives and mothers, and follow specific social expectations. Because Edna essentially has an emotional affair with another man when she is married, and because she chooses to explore sexual and emotional independence, this book was criticized from the very beginning. A big argument for banning this work is that Edna does not repent at the end of the book and she makes her own choice at the end of the book and takes her own life. However, today it is often considered a classic for its feminist stance and eloquent style.
One quote that speaks to Edna's independence is as follows:
"In short, Mrs. Pontellier was beginning to realize her position in the universe as a human being, and to recognize her relations as an individual to the world within and about her" (Chapter 6).
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