BOOKS

What a curious power words have.” - Tadeusz Borowski

Two sides to the story:

SHOULD "To Kill a Mockingbird" be taught in schools?

Why To Kill A Mockingbird Should Not Be Taught In Schools

by: Anonymous Grade 9 student
 

How are students supposed to learn anything when schools are shoving tired books in their face?  There are several reasons why. the school system should be against teaching To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. A few reasons are it is outdated, it is controversial and it is biased.

 

Lee’s novel was written in the 1960s, with a setting in the 1930s. In 68 years there are more recent novels that do not have  outdated messages, and main idea. It is hard to relate to this book because it does not correspond with our way of life now. Racism is still a significant issue in  our world today, but it has changed a lot since then. In the past, racism was a lot more direct such as when Francis provokes Scout:“Francis looked at me carefully, concluded that I had been sufficiently subdued, and crooned softly, ‘N***** lover’” (112 Lee).  Now racism is a lot more discreet; it can be found as trolls on social media, or wrongly displayed topics in movies or on the news. The novel should be revoked from our education system especially since we are already studying a Canadian novel Motorcycles and Sweetgrass which covers a similar theme, including the racism in  residential schools. Motorcycles And Sweetgrass is easier for us to connect to because it reveals more about our nation's history. Today there are several, more fitting and modern options that will convey a similar or better message.

 

Some schools promote good character, but this book advertises the theme is that being good does not get you far. This moral is displayed by Tom getting shot, Boo going back inside, and Jem getting punished for defending his father. This moral should not be plastered in classrooms. School is supposed to inspire us, not tell us to take the easy way out. The words chosen by Lee could also make people uncomfortable. The “n” word is used several times, and can be very hurtful to people of colour. The book itself without previous knowledge can also be seen as stereotypical. All the people of colour live on one side of the town and are only able to have certain jobs. The language can also be hard to grasp because Lee used a southern accent: “You reckon we ought write a letter to whoever's leaving us these things” (81). This is a complicated book to understand with firstly, a tough subject to read about, and secondly, the language used.

 

Have you ever had someone retell your story, but in a different way? Well that is what Mrs Lee has done. This novel was written by a white woman who has never felt racial oppression, yet she writes like she knows how it feels. Lee’s book is biased for that reason. As a Caucasian, she cannot relate or begin to understand what people of colour lived through.  She cannot connect to the novel as she is completely inexperienced pertaining to the content of the novel. At the time the novel was published Harper Lee was titled a non-racist, but a lot has changed since then. In today's standards she could be considered a racist for even writing the “n” word because that word being used by a privileged white person is degrading and bias towards people of colour. In the end we should ask ourselves, how is this novel  helping us to understand what people of colour lived through, and how is this storyline pertinent to the topic today, especially when the author did not even face racial discrimination.

 

In conclusion To Kill A Mockingbird should not be taught in school because it is outdated and students are already reading a more recent, relevant novel. The novel is not promoting a suitable message for a school environment, and we are not learning what it felt like to be discriminated because the author was never oppressed. This novel is a classic, but it is time for some change because it has no place in our classrooms.

Reasons why "To Kill A Mockingbird Should Remain in our School Curriculum

by: Madeline Bhamjee

               For many years Harper Lee's novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” has been part of a controversial

 

discussion; should teachers still be teaching this historic novel to a rapidly growing generation? The intent of this

 

essay is to not only persuade teachers to continue teaching, “To Kill a Mockingbird” but to give them evidence

 

of what students can learn if their teachers continue to regard this novel as a staple of school literature. Firstly, “To

 

Kill a Mockingbird is a reminder of the past and it should remain in the school curriculum;  another reason is this

 

novel forces students to make connections from the past to the present: Finally, the use of the ‘n’ word in this novel

 

only intensifies the novel’s messages.

 

                  

              “To Kill a Mockingbird” was set in an era before Civil Rights, where racism towards black people was

 

rampant. Those who spoke out endured criticism, some from their own relatives. For instance, Scout the protagonist

 

is shunned by her cousin for her father’s decision to defend a black man, “I’m here to tell you that it’s mortifying the

 

rest of the family!” (Lee 110). This upsetting scene only serves as a crucial reminder of our history every year to

 

students. Though some might argue that there are similar, more “entertaining” novels available, “To Kill a

 

Mockingbird” will remain one of few novels written by an author who grew up during the pre-Civil Rights era,

 

therefore witnessing events similar to the novel’s making its time accurate.

 

                  

             In like matter, “To Kill a Mockingbird” forces students to relate the racism they see in the novel, to the

 

racism they see today. In “To Kill a Mockingbird” Tom Robinson is a wrongly accused black man awaiting the

 

consequences of his “wrongdoings”. He desperately tries to escape this fate but is shot brutally, as told by Atticus,

 

“Seventeen bullet holes in him. They didn’t have to shoot him that much.”(Lee 315). This barbaric scene brings

 

students back to the present, where innocent black people are frequently shot out of hatred. The connection between

 

both incidents reminds students that since the 1930s to the present, not much has changed; this will only motivate

 

students to speak out and protect one another. Another example from the novel which can be related to the present is

 

when Atticus attempts to defend Tom Robinson when he knows that he and Tom Robinson’s arguments will go

 

unheard. He explains to his daughter Scout that he couldn’t bear to live with himself if he didn’t defend Tom

 

Robinson, “If I didn’t I couldn’t hold my head up in town.”(Lee p.110). In our society, people are afraid to stick up

 

for one another because they fear being ostracized or harmed. If students continue reading this novel, they can relate

 

what Atticus did to their own lives, hence becoming courageous individuals. Though “To Kill a Mockingbird”

 

was set in a time period where aggression was frequent, it still remains a novel that can be translated to

 

today.

 

                

          While parents and students find the use of the ‘n’ word in “upsetting”, the use of an offensive slur intensifies

 

the messages against racism absorbed from the novel. In one scene Scout’s cousin taunts her by insulting her father

 

Atticus, “He’s nothing but a ‘n’ word lover!” (Lee 110). He is beat up by Scout who screams at him to take back

 

what he said. It is evident that Scout is enraged that such a word was used against her family but how is this relevant

 

to the statement? Readers will see that if one slur made such an impact on Scout, they will be reminded that the

 

slur should never be used outside the story. It is understandable why people are upset by the use of a racial slur in a

 

novel that is continuously taught to the teenage generation, though, the novel’s message is against racism. Therefore

 

the use of the ‘n’ word enhances the racist setting of Maycomb by showing readers how characters in the novel had

 

the nerve to use that slur despite knowing it’s offense. The use of the ‘n’ word in this novel shows

 

students how different behaviours were acceptable in the 1930s and how its use will never be acceptable now.

 

                 

           In summary, “To Kill a Mockingbird” should continue to be taught by teachers. This novel serves as an

 

important reminder of our past and will encourage students to draw connections from the novel to the present. The

 

use of the ‘n’ word in the novel will only discourage students to use the slur in the future. We constantly crave new

 

content, but we’re slowly pushing away our past that we would rather not be reminded of. If we want to progress as

 

a society, we need to accept our past and educate our new generation of its mistakes.“To Kill a Mockingbird” is

 

capable of this. That is why it would be a sin to replace it.

A WILD NEW COMIC

BY BELLA CRYSLER

This week I got the chance to read Nicole’s brand new comic, published by Ad Astra, called “The Beast”. The new release talks about Alberta’s oil sands, climate change, and Canada’s economy.

 

Not into comics? Don’t care much for books on social justice? I think you might just love this comic anyway, and here’s why.

 

How often do you sit down and take the time to read about real issues that Canadians are currently facing. I know that I certainly don’t do it enough and I think most of you would say the same. No one likes to hear the sad, and sometimes even scary, details of the problems the world is facing today. Especially not when those problems are happening in the beautiful country you call home. The truth of the matter is, the only way to solve problems is to address them and that’s why “The Beast” is so important. As Patrick McCurdy says in the books forward, “...if we can’t talk about climate change - the biggest threat humanity has ever faced - in the context of a disaster which was hastened by climate change, when can we talk about it?”. I like this graphic novel because it addresses the topic tactfully yet directly. Nicole Burton has woven the story in a way that displays multiple moral perspectives surrounding the oil sands while still stressing the importance of environmental conservation. It’s informative, but not in-your-face, leaving you feeling educated rather than guilt stricken upon finishing the last page.

 

So even if you aren’t big into comic books or social justice reads, (I’m not gonna lie, I’m not), I suggest you give “The Beast” by Nicole Burton a try… you may just be pleasantly surprised.

 

To learn more about Ad Astra Comix and the other amazing titles they have to offer, head on over to https://adastracomix.com

A SUNNY READ FOR ALL

BY CATHERINE McDONALD

The teen years are often thought of as our most formative years when we attempt to form an identity through self-expression and experimentation. Yet, Young Adult (YA) novels, fiction published specifically for readers in this age range, seem to lack any accurate or meaningful portrayal of these defining characteristics of growing up. However, this book really seems to do what others in the genre have not yet been able to do.


I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson is a compelling fictional novel that is both amusing and light while also being incredibly heartbreaking at times. It’s brutally honest with its depiction of being a teenager and doesn't attempt to steer away from any tough topics. Told from the perspectives of two twins, it tells the story of their conflicts with each other and their struggle to find their place in the world. Both of their stories intertwine seamlessly.  

What I found really sets this book apart from others with the same style, is that it flashes back and forth in time. So, not only do we get to see the unique perspective that each has on the same formative events, but also from Before and After.

 

First, we hear from Noah, who begins his narration at 13. Then, Jude tells her side of the story at 16. We get to see them struggle with who they truly are and who others want them to be. We see their parents trying to mold them into their own ideas of who they should be. There's pressure not only from their parents but from the social climate around them that forces them to conform to it or reap the negative social consequences.

 

To add to that pressure on their personal identities, there's also a sequence of life-changing events that really shape who they become. After their mom dies, they begin trying to resist being themselves out of fear.  Before their mother's death, each of them mostly feels free to be who they are despite the aforementioned pressure from people around them.

 

Jude is a badass tomboy that loves to surf and explore. She also enjoys going out with boys and dressing up in a provocative manner that isn't respected by her mother. Noah is extremely passionate about drawing and all things artistic. He is especially passionate about getting into a prestigious art school called CSA. Noah struggles to connect to not only his peers but also his dad, because he wants him to be more masculine.

 

It is made pretty clear in the book that Noah is gay, but he really struggles to accept himself.It is especially hard for him after his mom dies and he doesn't make it into his dream school, CSA. He decides instead to hide his true self behind a hypermasculine jock-like exterior.

 

Jude actually gets into CSA instead of Noah. She goes from being a popular outgoing girl to a social recluse that dreads attention from others. Essentially, Jude and Noah seem to swap personalities to cope with their mother’s passing.

 

Ultimately, both characters make peace with themselves and each other. They no longer feel burdened by what others think of them. Overall, this book is able to remain authentic and heartfelt without being too cliché or dramatic. It also doesn't feel restricted by the YA label like many others in the genre. Perhaps most importantly, it seems to perfectly encapsulate all the elements that make the teenage experience so unique. This really is a great book and I would recommend it to everyone, not just teens.

technology in text

 BY vanessa ippolito

We are living in the Age of Technology. New technological advances don’t scare us, they invigorate us. So why do the worlds in books like The Circle and Ready Player One seem so terrifying?

 

The Circle by Dave Eggers revolves around Mae Holland, a brilliant girl who was finally presented with an opportunity that saved her from her blue collar job. She begins to work at The Circle, a social media mega-empire. Imagine every social media platform, every search engine, every computer program, in one place. Everything you’d ever need is accessible via this platform. All of your personal information is in one place so you’ll never have to search around for it. You’ll never have to remember twelve different passwords ever again.

And on top of it all, your social worth is based off of your online activity.

 

Yeah. There’s the catch. Something that sounds so perfect had to have a fault. Throughout the book, Mae is consumed with this need to be popular on social media. It’s an obsession - an obsession that is some people’s reality.

 

Instagram culture is taking over. People strive for likes and followers and attention. So a fiction reality like the one in The Circle isn’t too far away. And that, is scary.

The story in Ready Player One occurs in the near future. Wade Watts, or more commonly known by his virtual reality avatar name Parzival, is an unfit teenager living in poverty on an overcrowded Earth.

People are forced to live in vertical trailer parks that often topple over and end in destruction. To escape the depression of the real world, everyone plugs into virtual reality, the OASIS. Everyone is happier in the OASIS, so why ever unplug.

 

With the upsurge of technology and new advances and discoveries in virtual reality, it’s only a matter of time before everyone has access to VR consoles and equipment. As the world around us crumbles, people will be taking to an alternate reality to escape what is real.

 

A new book with the same message is Otherworld by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller. Yet another story about escaping reality.

 

It’s no coincidence that more and more of these types of sci-fi books are cropping up. With a world that is being overrun by technology, authors take to the age-old form of media, book, to warn their audience of what could be.

 

Then again, they could just be playing around with theories and make-believe worlds for our enjoyment.

 

Your decision.

 

Disclaimer: This article was not written in attempt to criticize technology or those who use it, even obsessively, only to shine a light on the emphasis that science fiction writers chose to portray this topic in.

KNIGHTWATCH 2020/2021