My Mom Won’t Let My Stepsister Read 1984 Even Though It’s Required for School

Recently, an online forum became a hotbed of debate after a distraught teenager shared a dilemma over book censorship — at home. 

The controversy arises from her reading material, George Orwell’s 1984. It is a standard course text in other curricula, which makes perfect sense considering its importance as a work of modern fiction. 

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Grim, Essential Reading

For those who haven’t read it, the book is set in a bleak, futuristic dystopia. The lower caste people of this society are systematically corralled and subjugated into a meager, fearful existence by a tyrannical regime whose primary goal is surveillance and oppression. 

As grim as that sounds, one can hardly imagine it is any worse than many shows and movies on TV now. Unfortunately, however, this isn’t the case for the poor girl’s stepmother, who insists she cannot read it. 

Ignorance Is Strength

“My mom says (the book) is not appropriate, and (she) won’t let her read it,” says the original poster. This is an alarming revelation for a teenage student at a crucial stage of her education. 

Furthermore, the storyteller explains that her father: his stepdad (it’s complicated, I know) is not willing to stand up for his daughter. “My stepdad basically said, ‘Okay, whatever you think,’ about my mom not letting her read it,” complains the angry sibling. 

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A Beleaguered Student

Also, being 17 years old but homeschooled, the original poster says their stepsister is beside herself, fearing that she will need “to switch to non-AP English” in light of her stepmother’s decision.

They also explain they have never read Orwell’s masterpiece, so they cannot know if their mother is right. So, what does the online community make of this? 

Is The Stepmom Just a Karen?

One responder wants to know whether the stepmom stated why the book is unsuitable, especially in today’s political climate where questioning authority is necessary: “It encourages you to consider the sources of information and question the motives behind those sources.”

Cultural References Needed

Someone pointed out why this classic is essential reading. If anything, students need to read the book for its cultural references: words like “Big Brother,” “Room 101,” and “Orwellian.” Allusions from 1984 are everywhere, so the student will improve her comprehension skills and understand other texts better. 

War Is Peace

Several concerns arose about the girl’s father in this scenario. “Shame on him for not stepping up to help his daughter in this situation,” snarls one critic. I am with them on this one. What kind of biological father allows his daughter’s education to be jeopardized like this? 

Going Underground

A simple, practical suggestion for the lost student: “Get a copy of it online. Bury it in a folder. Read it when no one else is around, read it in bed at night….” Winston Reid would be proud. 

Big Brother or Big Stepmother?

Anybody who has heard the expression Big Brother may think of the reality TV show from the early millennium. Those who have read it know it refers to the leader and symbolic figurehead of “the Party.” Does her stepmom realize she is becoming Big Brother? Isn’t it Ironic?

Isn’t It Ironic?

Coincidentally, her stepmother’s actions do echo the book’s premise. Dozens of commenters say how ironic it is that mom is censoring 1984. While I am not sure ironic best describes it, one could argue that art imitates life. 

Maybe the stepmom, indeed has read it? 1984 is such a heart-breaking allegory. Perhaps she is protecting her stepdaughter from what she sees as a defeatist tale of moral decay and hopelessness.

My personal opinion is that books such as 1984, Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451 should be at the top of reading lists globally — and the younger, the better.

This thread inspired this post.

This article was originally published on STEM Education Guide.

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  • Katharine Toldness
    Posted at 01:18h, 21 March Reply

    Stepmom probably didn’t want her to read it for fear the girl would see her own homelife reflected.

  • Kate Powell
    Posted at 19:39h, 21 March Reply

    I read 1984 in high school. In 1967. I’m still a good, healthy and understanding person!

  • Thomas Paull
    Posted at 07:36h, 21 August Reply

    I read 1984 when I was grown up and it is a little deep. I also feel it would be quite suitable for school and used for discussions in a variety of other subjects, besides English literature. The book would be suitable for supplemental reading in governament, philosophy and socioogy classes.. . I am not sure what I would suggest to clear up the concerns with Mom.

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