Defending the classics

DOWNEY - There has been much controversy on a recent article published in the Los Angeles Times. The article, "Teacher wants to expel Huck Finn," talks about how an English teacher, Mr. John Foley, objects to the teachings of "Huckleberry Finn," "Of Mice and Men," and "To Kill a Mockingbird," all of which are considered classic American novels that have been implemented into most school's reading list.Foley wishes to replace "Huckleberry Finn" with "Lonesome Dove" and "Of Mice and Men" with "Going After Cacciato" because he feels that students will be able to relate to them better. However, I feel that the books in question should never be removed from our school's reading list because they depict a life we never experienced and tell us the horror and bigotry one had to face during those time periods. In order to understand our nation better, we must learn about its history and these books guide us into events that should never happen again. These books are also a symbol of American literature as it defines the American life. "Huck Finn, Of Mice and Men, and To Kill a Mockingbird are all great novels and I don't understand why it should even be considered to be removed from our reading lists," said Warren High senior Nancy Kim, "I learned a lot from these novels because they all hold a great message." "I don't know about other people but Of Mice and Men is probably the best novel I have ever read because its written in such a vivid way and tells the story of true friendship that can never be broken," says Warren High senior Nadia Kim. Huckleberry Finn, Of Mice and Men, and To Kill a Mockingbird are all great novels. To remove such classic novels because students "can't relate to them" would be undermining our intelligence and our want for a good read. Foley states that he doesn't want to ban the books but doesn't want them to be the backbone of the American literature curriculum in 2009, especially when it's a struggle to get kids to read anything. I believe that no matter what, Huckleberry Finn should be taught in classrooms because it deals with such a complex time in our country. Because race is such a sensitive subject to be talked about, literature helps in sparking conversation without offending many people. There has also been much controversy with "Of Mice and Men," which tells the story of two friends during the Great Depression in California. Although it is considered one of the greatest American novels, it has been banned from various American public and school libraries because of its profanity, racial slurs, and for being pro-euthanasia. I believe that students understand what they are reading and know that books shouldn't affect them personally. I believe that students merely want to know history and want to understand the conflicts that were presented during those time periods. I believe we, as students, should be better acquainted with fine authors such as Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, and Harper Lee, who have all contributed to literature with timeless novels. Helena Park is a student at Warren High School ********** Published: February 6, 2009 - Volume 7 - Issue 42