A Parent’s Guide to A Class Divided Then and Now (Book)

WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the stories ranging from unimportant to plot turners.

A Class Divided, Then and Now by William Peters

Type: Races, School

Basic Plot: A teacher decides to teach her all white class about being discriminated by race by having the class divided by eye color for two days. After this she is able to do it with other classes she has and even adults.


Plot: 4/5 Well Done: The story was unique, the main interest being the experiment and the results of it. It was a lot like a science experiment; only instead of experimenting on tangible materials, the experiment was done on the emotions and spirits of people. There were just enough examples of the experiment to keep interest and not become repetitious.

Writing Style and Setup: 3/5 Average: The author wrote in a very factual and plain manner, and mainly focused on describing facts. There was opinion and emotion, but these usually seemed secondary to the facts. The order of the book was chronological from the time Ms. Elliot first started the experiment until she decided to do the experiment as a full time job. Both the style of writing and pace of the book were comfortable to read, but were nothing unique.

Moral: 2½/5 Potentially Good or Bad Moral: The moral had some things that were and were not biblical. The Bible says many times that we should not be a “respecter of persons.” Race is one thing that we should not discriminate on. I personally think that racism is not as big of a problem as it once was in the USA, though it is still there. Racism isn’t just against black people anymore, but white, Asian, and Latino people too, so no matter what race you are, if you feel hostility against a race (not a culture, but a race) than the main moral will be good for you. There were some smaller morals that I did not are for as much though, such as it is OK to outright deny authority if you believe it is wrong. True, God says we are not to obey authority when told to sin, but He never says to be outright rebellious about it. Also we should notice discriminating has been taken to a much further level than before. Discriminating in the sense that someone is a better person than another because of something they can’t change like their skin or hair color is wrong, but discriminating because of something they can change or control is not wrong. God discriminates who He lets in heaven: if you accept Him as Savior you go to heaven and if you reject Him hell, but you can control whether you accept Him or not. He will not discriminate based on things you can’t control though, like whether you are Jewish or Gentile. Sadly people today have taken “don’t discriminate” to an outrageous and radical level and say people have absolutely no control over their actions or who they are. There is slight beginning traces of that in here, but not as much as there is today. Because of the modern idea of discrimination, be careful when you read this book to not take the moral too far.

Overall: 3½/5 Above Average: The thing that makes this book most recommendable is the unique experiment that is done. It is recommended for either gender and is recommended either for adults or teenagers. Children may not find it as interesting, though teenagers probably will. I do recommend that the teenager have a godly perspective of discrimination and racism before reading though or that they discuss the book with their parents, so that way the moral does not affect them in a negative way.

Moral Content

Sexual and Inappropriate Content: ½/5 An Improper Description: A boy’s embarrassment is compared to being found “swimming naked.”

Violence: 2/5 Moderate Light or Mentioned Violence: People trip twice in the book. It is mentioned that Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. The children in a class believe black people are more violent than white people. Boys in the book wrestle usually for fun though once out of anger and a boy says he wrestles with his little sister. His teacher later exaggerates it against him as hitting his sister. In high school he does wrestling. A girl lets another girl get hit with her arm. It mentions a boy was kicked by his dad. A boy punches another one. A boy is beat up by a gang because his mom isn’t racist. His sister also gets punched and kicked. Several children have violent thoughts toward the other students and teacher while the experiment is going on, one of them even being killing their teacher. A boy suggests that his teacher use a pointer to punish children of the bad eye color. A boy gets hit in the back. It mentions someone dieing in a car accident and another person being greatly injured.

Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 2½/5 Some Offensive Racial Terms and Light Language Misuse: Offensive words to refer to people of other races are used at least fourteen times, the “n” word being used twelve times. Not all of these terms are necessarily swearing, but are still offensive and rude. The alternate term for donkey is used once. God’s name is misused once.

Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 0/5 None

Religious Issues: 1/5 Slightly Suggestive: A Sioux prayer was mentioned once. When a boy draws a picture of himself on the day he has the bad eye color, part of the picture includes a devil.

Magic: 0/5 None

Others: Ms. Elliot is also against sexism to the point where she believes that being called a “lady” is an insult. There is mention of punk hairstyles. There is a mention of ashtrays and smoking.

Overall: 3/5 Teenage Appropriate: The book is raised for teenagers because of the swearing. The racial terms are the worst moral things about the book, besides some issues with the moral. The moral does push some of the modern day ideas of discrimination, but they are not as pushed or harsh as what can be seen on a daily basis.


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