Profanity Not Mandatory: The Negative Impacts that Of Mice and Men Have on Students Essay Example
Furious parents and students challenged Of Mice and Men a total of 32 times across schools in the United States, and at one point Of Mice and Men was the “second most frequently banned book in the public school curriculum” (Sova para 19). Of Mice and Men goes through the life of George Milton and Lennie Small, who are migrant workers, on a ranch during the Great Depression. All through Steinbeck flooded Of Mice and Men with profanity and racial slurs. In spite of the banning of the book, Of Mice and Men is still being read in the high school curriculum because the book has “merit”. Specifically, Steinbeck’s novella earns “merit” because it is historically correct, which is an ignorant reason for a banned book to be in schools. Despite the historical accuracy of Of Mice and Men, the book should stay out of the classroom and high school curriculums due to how the excessive use of inappropriate language affects specific clusters of students.
To be begin with, I would like to bring to attention of the extent of how much explicit language is in Of Mice and Men. The Vice President of the Parents’ Coalition in Hamilton proclaimed that the, “novel contained 108 profanities and 12 racial slurs” (Sova para 7). Sure enough, that was the reason Ireland banned Steinbeck’s novella in 1953 due to having vulgar language. Similarly, 20 years later in 1974, The United States banned the novella for also having vulgar language (Sova para 2). After this point, Of Mice and Men has become excluded from the curriculums throughout the United States till this day. Most notably in 1991, parents complained to the school board that the novella has subjected their daughter to “psychological and emotional abuse" (Sova para 5). Later in 2008, a student from Missouri complained about the excessive use of the n-word in the book (Sova para 14).
The books sexist nature against woman is the first reason why the book should not be present in schools. Throughout the book Curley’s wife just stays at home and waits for Curley to come back, and all the other ranchers refer her as a “tart” ( Steinbeck 38). This is just one example how demeaning the ranchers are towards Curley’s wife. Later in the book we learn that Curley’s wife aspired to become an actress, but since she was a woman she was unable to. New research reveals how these types of stereotyped women in the media such as books and movies affect young women. Christina Brown from the University of Kentucky along with Campbell Leaper from the University of California, Santa Cruz established that, “ reviewed the sexualized depictions of girls in media . . . by extension, accepting these stereotyped beliefs may undermine some girls’ own academic confidence and performance” (3).
Of Mice and Men depicts woman as only being good housewife and nothing more, which discourages school girls to achieve their personal academic goals. Surely, with the presence of technology and the internet there is no doubt that a school girl has seen this depiction of women. Schools should ban Of Mice and Men because of its sexist nature which, consequently negativity affects female students. Similarly, to how Of Mice and Men affects women it also affects how well African American students’ perform academically.
Another reason Of Mice and Men should be barred from a school’s curriculum because of how the immature language in the novella affects African Americans. Curley’s wife gets mad at Crooks, a black man, and bitterly says “‘Listen, N****r,’ she said ‘You know what I can do to you if you open your trap’” (Steinbeck 78). Imagine a student having to read that section of the book aloud. Not only will it cause the student to feel uncomfortable, but also cause uneasiness for their peers as well. Furthermore, it could create an environment where students think saying derogatory comments are acceptable, which will create a negative stereotype.
Martin J. Wasserberg from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington researched on the topic and uncovered that, “high school and college students, some studies suggest that when African Americans experience stereotype threat, they experience increased anxiety . . . signifying that this may be the mechanism that leads to decreased performance” (1). A classroom space should be a safe haven for student, where students are equal to his or her peers. It is absolutely arbitrary for black students to encounter a stereotype threat is an obstruction to their learning. This is simply unacceptable, as every student has the right to learn without anyone or thing hindering them. For this purpose, school should remove Steinbeck’s novella from their curriculums completely. A lack of self worth that women might feel after reading Of Mice and Men might lead them to radical decisions.
Finally Steinbeck’s novella should not be taught in schools due to the book encouraging euthanasia. Dings informs the reader that, “some critics attacked the novella . . . stat[ing] that it endorsed euthanasia” ( 1). Candy’s old dog gets put down, and George killing Lennie so Curley and the other rancher won’t torture Lennie are just a few examples of the book encouraging euthanasia. The readers of this novella are typically around 15-19 years old and in high school. This brings up an area of concerns as the Center Of Disease Control because, “ Researchers looked at trends during the 15-year period by gender, age group and suicide method . . . The rates rose for 10- to 14-year-old females, 15- to 19-year-old females and 15- to 19-year-old males” ( Increase in Adolescence Suicide Rates 1). The abundance of examples in the book encouraging euthanasia coupled with the increase of suicide rates could spell disaster. Some teenagers might be going through a tough time, and teenagers might think the only solution as seen many times in the book is to take the easy way out. A book that talks about death in such a light manner should be prohibited from all schools.
On the other hand, some say that the book should stay in schools because it accurately depicts the life of an migrant worker. Dings defends the book by highlighting that, “The book shocked audiences with its bleak portrayal of migrant life . . . It was called an accurate depiction of conditions by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt” (para 5). While the book does give readers an insight of the terrible life of a migrant worker, it overlooks a great deal of negative reasons not to have the book in schools. In addition, There are other books that are historically accurate and does not offend people. For example The Circuit, Esperanza Rising, and First Day In Grapes are a just few of the books about the life of a migrant worker, while leaving out all the degrading content. Therefore, the claim that schools should keep Of Mice and Men because it has “merit” is an ineffective reason.
In the end, critics believe that Of Mice and Men should stay away from schools and classrooms. To keep Of Mice and Men in schools and overlooking the negative impacts is unjust towards students. Retaining the novella in school subjects the upper level students to lower academic performance in the African American population, discourages women to achieve their academic goals, and possible tempting students to take their own life. Although Of Mice and Men is historically accurate, the negative aspects outweigh any reason for the book to retain in schools.