My English class is reading The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini as our set-work and we recently came across another ‘choice word’ as my English teacher would put it. Previously, people in the class wouldn’t shy away from loudly profaning against all that is holy but some of my classmates are more apprehensive of it. Not just saying it out loud but of swearing in literature in general.
This got me thinking. I’ve come across a few reviewers on the Internet that absolutely do not accept novels with profanity in them, some who deduct points from the star rating and others who couldn’t care less. I understand why profanity is a strict no-no in teen (‘teen’) and children’s literature but I find that it is an odd sort of exclusion in more adult fiction if this same author goes into loving detail about how a bullet pierces an eyeball or a man’s skull is cleft in twain.
Then there are some who accept swearing as an outlet, as a thing real people in the world say. There are points where the best word to use is one that is frowned upon, to reflect gravity, intensity or emotion. Sometimes people in fiction swear for the same reasons people swear in real life. Swearing can add a layer of depth or believability to a character because, like I said, real people swear for reasons. Yes, no reason is technically a reason.
What’s your opinion on certain four letter words? What level of tastefulness do you look for in terms of swearing?