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Historical Context

(Novels for Students)

Censorship

Blume's Forever … was not the author's first novel to be banned. Her Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret (1970) was banned for its discussion of bras and budding breasts. Over the years as an author who was censored, Blume became involved politically, promoting freedom of the press. The impulse to censor and the resistance to censorship is not new. Indeed, as early as 1660, Sir William Avenant in Britain censored seven of Shakespeare's plays because he considered them too bawdy, or vulgar. Hitler burned books that were perceived to threaten or contradict ideas promoted by the Third Reich. In the United States, many books have been banned that were later widely accepted as classics: Winesburg, Ohio (1919) by Sherwood Anderson; Catcher in the Rye (1951) by J. D. Salinger; Portnoy's Complaint (1969) by Philip Roth; and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1970) by Maya Angelou.

The American Library Association celebrates the reading of banned books each year during the month of September. This program comes with an endorsement from the U.S. Library of Congress. The association points out that what one era condemns may be applauded in a subsequent period, and it promotes the concept that everyone should have the right to choose what they read. The matter is complicated, however, when the publications fall in the category of pornography and obscenity, and some works have had their content evaluated in a court of law to determine what, if any, cultural benefit the work serves. Such an incident occurred regarding D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover, which was published privately in 1928, published in an expurgated version in London in 1932, and did not appear in a full text version until 1960.

Planned Parenthood

As of the early 2000s, the Planned Parenthood Federation operated about nine hundred facilities across the United States. People at the clinics provide information concerning sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and birth control measures, and physicians in these centers perform abortions, vasectomies, and breast and cervical exams, to name a few of their services.

Planned Parenthood began in 1916 in Brooklyn, New York, as the National Birth Control League. Margaret Sanger (1883–1966), her sister, Ethel Byrne, and Fania Mindell were in charge of the small office where they handed out information about birth control to the poor people who lived in that community. All three women were arrested for breaking the Comstock Law of 1873, which prohibited the dissemination of birth control information.

In 1922, Sanger formed the American Birth Control League. In 1936, Sanger and her group won a victory when a U.S. court of appeals judge made it legal to ship contraceptives by mail in the United States and ordered liberalization of the Comstock Law. In 1952, the International Planned Parenthood Federation was founded, which as of 2006 included clinics in India, Hong Kong, Singapore, and various European countries.

Controversy has surrounded Planned Parenthood. The services that are provided, especially abortions, go against the tenets of some religions. But this is not the only point of contention. The founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, was criticized for supporting eugenics—a movement that professed the benefits of social intervention in human evolution. Sanger has been criticized for offering birth control methods to the poor to reduce their population, while encouraging the rich and elite to have more babies.

Literary Style

(Novels for Students)

Romance Novel

In romance novels the main plot concerns falling in love and courtship. There are challenges along the way for the couple, but these are generally overcome. Some secondary characters are not quite as lucky as the two main characters, which provides other views of courtship and distinguishes the main couple's experience from the experiences of others. The romance novel often ends on a happy note. In this case, Blume uses the romance novel as a venue for examining what is different when teenagers become...

(The entire section is 1,498 words.)