Two separate illustrations of an animal head and a fire on a mountain

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding
Start Free Trial

Why was Lord of the Flies banned in many school districts?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Lord of the Flies is widely considered such a staple in high school classrooms today that most people would be surprised to find that this book was considered too controversial for classroom consumption just decades ago. School districts in Canada, Texas, South Dakota, Iowa, Arizona, and New York had raised...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Lord of the Flies is widely considered such a staple in high school classrooms today that most people would be surprised to find that this book was considered too controversial for classroom consumption just decades ago. School districts in Canada, Texas, South Dakota, Iowa, Arizona, and New York had raised challenges about the book being used in classrooms from the 1980s to the turn of the 21st century.

The most common reasons, of course, were that the book promoted violence, utilized racial epithets, denigrated certain disadvantaged populations, sanctioned gratuitous nudity, and condoned the use of profanity.

Although some of these school districts challenged the use of the book in their classrooms, the book was never completely taken off reading lists. Some schools allowed students to read alternative literature if they were so inclined.

In 2006, some parents from Apalachee High School in Barrow County, Georgia, objected to the teaching of an essay connected to the Lord of the Flies syllabus. Accordingly, the essay, written by E.L. Epstein, appropriated the use of rape language to describe the torture and killing of a sow in the book. The essay was included in the back of all Lord of the Flies copies assigned to students. Although the parents did not have a problem with the essay itself, they felt uncomfortable with the assignment set by a teacher. To complete the assignment, students had to imagine themselves in place of the sow while it was being tortured and killed in a sexually suggestive manner.

The matter was first brought to the attention of the teacher, who refused to stop assigning the controversial homework to students. Likewise, the curriculum committee at the high school also refused to ban the essay. The parents brought their concerns to the district media committee. The committee had three options it could pursue: either use the book with the essay, purchase new copies without the offending essay, or keep the book as is and allow students to read an alternative work. In the end, fourteen of the fifteen member committee voted for the second option. Students who chose to read an alternative work were not penalized for not participating in classroom discussions of Lord of the Flies and for not completing the assignment based on the Epstein essay.

Although the parents were not completely satisfied with the chosen option, they admitted that such an option at least allowed students and parents to opt out of participating if they had reservations.

So, you can see that there are various reasons why the book would be banned or challenged by school districts. Some people object to the material in the novel, and others object to the way the novel is taught. To avoid controversy, some teachers have chosen to skip the novel altogether and to assign other books for classroom teaching.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team