Lord of the Flies

ISBN: 0399529209
ISBN 13: 9780399529207
By: William Golding Ben Gibson E.M. Forster Edmund L. Epstein

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Classic Classics Dystopia Dystopian Favorites Novels Read For School School To Read Young Adult

About this book

The 50th Anniversary Edition of the Lord of the Flies is the volume that every fan of this classic book will have to own! Lord of the Flies remains as provocative today as when it was first published in 1954, igniting passionate debate with its startling, brutal portrait of human nature. Though critically acclaimed, it was largely ignored upon its initial publication. Yet soon it became a cult favorite among both students and literary critics who compared it to J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye in its influence on modern thought and literature. Labeled a parable, an allegory, a myth, a morality tale, a parody, a political treatise, even a vision of the apocalypse, Lord of the Flies has established itself as a true classic. And now readers can own it in a beautifully designed hardcover edition worthy of its stature.

Reader's Thoughts

Henry Avila

A British airplane crashes on a deserted South Sea's island, in the middle of an atomic war.All the grownups are killed and only children 12 and younger survive.How are they to cope? (Basically an allegorical story of what is human nature , good or evil ?)Ralph is chosen leader,"Piggy", the intellectual sidekick.This beautiful tropical coral isle ,with a lagoon,palm trees and plenty of bananas and other fruit.Wild pigs in the forest,fish in the ocean, so no worries,right?Wrong!Ralph has a rescue fire set, which goes out of control and one of the boys is never seen again. Jack doesn't like playing second fiddle to Ralph.He takes his group of choirboys and leaves, to form a new tribe on Castle Rock.Painting their faces and becoming great hunters.Since Piggy's eye glasses are the only way the kids can start a fire.Jack raids Ralph's shelter and steals it.Complicating the situation is the mysterious "Beast" on the mountain. Is it real?Earlier Simon sees the head of a large boar on a stick ,in the middle of the forest(Lord of the Flies).He has a vision and flees towards the children scaring them all.In the dark they believe it's the beast and have to defend themselves!Later the two"tribes" struggle for supramecy on the island.Will the wicked inherit the Earth?

Scribble Orca

UPDATE: I was very saddened to read this Guardian article about Golding's manipulation of the classroom as a means to inform this work. Here is the dichotomy between contextual analysis and the reading of a book in isolation. It's of no consequence to anyone but me that my previous rating is reduced to no stars, but a writer searching for plot events or people on which to base characters has a moral obligation, particularly when dealing with children, not to indulge in the seductive siren call to experience an authenticity in life with the intent of reproducing it on the page. It's one thing to write a book on previous experiences garnered as the unconscious evolution and transition from state of naivete to worldliness, it's another, and entirely reprehensible, to create situations for the purpose of observation and recording and insertion in a novel, without the consent and knowledge of the subjects forming the experiment. Worse, Golding's work has been lauded as commentary on the nature of political and social structures, as I mentioned in my review proper. That he used school children, innocent of and incapable of denying his intent, constitutes no less of an emotional dishonesty than that to which I have ascribed other authors, indeed the one to whose work I have compared his.The original review appears at www.abookwithaview.com

Ali Fawad

"KILL THE BEAST! CUT HIS THROAT! SPILL HIS BLOOD!"^Found this brilliant piece of art work at deviant art.What did I think? This is a work of brilliance, sheer frightening brilliance! I remember starting the book and thinking to myself, "Wow... this is about a bunch of kids stranded on an island, big deal!". How wrong I was. What's frightening about this book isn't how a few children became savages or became uncivilized, it's the process of how it happened. I'm pretty sure they themselves didn't know where they lost themselves, or found themselves if you want to look at it another way (Their true nature if you must). In my opinion, this book is about humanity and civilization and how it's just a facade of sorts. It hints at the idea that no matter how many rules or laws we come up with, we are still animalistic in our true nature; a very morbid view of human life. “Which is better--to have laws and agree, or to hunt and kill?”It's a story of how a civilization starts off. It starts with ease and many promises of a prosperous future. They work together and help each other in the beginning, choosing a leader, taking care of those who are unable to take care of themselves and comforting each other. Then their eventual decline begins, when disagreements start to occur, when fear of the unknown starts to break away at the chains that hold their society together, and finally when those chains finally break, the unimaginable happens. Thing is, when their civilized bond of a democratic society breaks, another bond starts, that which takes it roots from fear of higher authorities, a dictatorship of sorts.You have the Cheif: Raplh is a very confident and natural leader, childish (he is 12 years old you know) but that soon changes. At the later part of the novel (view spoiler)[(After Simon's death) (hide spoiler)] I just couldn't bring myself to think of them as boys anymore. They had witnessed things no one of us in our comfortable lives ever has. They were men, they were men in the body of boys.I really feel bad for Ralph at the end. He tried his best, but he couldn't do anything against the nature of boys. All that he went through, all that he witnessed, all that he lost. You can't get over that stuff. “Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man's heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy.”You have Piggy: Piggy, that boy was the voice of reason and all things sensible in the group. He wasn't ever taken seriously which just makes me angry and sad at the same time. I mean even when he (view spoiler)[died (hide spoiler)] at the end, everyone still made fun of him. Everyone but Ralph, that was the only time Ralph actually missed him and his counseling and you felt really sad because he lost an important person.I want to talk about Jack but I wont. I still haven't made up my mind about him yet. For now I will call him the 'stupid-powerhungry-idiot-who-caused-so-much-pain!'This has the best manifestations of symbolism i've ever encountered. The conch, the reflection of all things holding superficial power; the pigs showing the desire to assign power and value to new things (kind of like an economy) and the beast. (view spoiler)[ There was no beast, they were the beast themselves, the beast embodied fear of the unknown. It was the voice that told you to not go venture out at night as the night holds terrible things, the beast was the worst thing imaginable to a bunch of 12 year old boys, little did they know that they themselves were their own worst enemy (hide spoiler)]“We did everything adults would do. What went wrong?”This offers you something to think about, actually a lot to think about. Agree or disagree with Golding's manifestation of starting a society from scratch you have to give him major props for sending shivers down your spine. An amazing read, this book is meant to be devoured and digested, read it line by line. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

Nora

I read this book a long time ago, long enough to where I barely remembered anything past the basic premise. So I picked it up again, only to wish I hadn't. There's a reason why they teach this book in middle school--in order to enjoy this book, one's intellectual cognizance must be that of a child, because otherwise you'll spend the entire time picking out everything that's wrong with the book. And there's a lot to pick out.From what little of the story that is actually coherent, I can see why this book has had a lasting effect on social commentary since it's initial publishing. The overlying illustration of how easily man can devolve back to his feral instincts is striking, yet could have been infinitesimally more effective in the hands of a decent writer. See, I would have cared a bit more about the little island society of prepubescent boys and their descent into barbarism if you know, any of the characters had been developed AT ALL. Instead, we're thrown interchangeable names of interchangeable boys who are only developed enough to conform to the basic archetypes Golding requires to hobble his little story along: The Leader, The Rebel, The Fat-Kid, The Nose-Picker, etc. Were he born in this time, I believe Golding would have done brilliantly as a scriptwriter for reality TV. And the plot? There's a plot? I'm guessing so, since things seem to happen, but it's kind of hard to tell since he spends pages describing irrelevant events that are never incorporated, characters that possibly exist yet probably don't, and using words that don't mean what he thinks they mean. And as the main characters are a bunch of kids not worth caring about, thus goes the way of the story.And the prose? Dear God, the prose! Get it away! It burns us! So yeah, this book sucked. It had potential. There were even a few parts I internally squealed at in hopeful anticipation. But whatever potential it did have was hopelessly squandered by a man who wrote like he'd never written anything before in his life. Don't waste your time.

Arun Divakar

You should have seen the blood.This is the one line that stood out remarkably from this book for me. I read Lord of the flies the first time as far as one and half decades ago. At that point in time, it stuck to me as a boy's adventure story and nothing beyond that. Being at quite an impressionable age, I quite dreamed up of such a wanton, bloody adventure for myself. This time when I read it, most of its symbolic references touch me quite profoundly. I am disturbed and attracted in equal measures to this insight into human nature. And no, I do not wish to think of that young boy's fantasy of being a blood soaked savage in an isolated island.Writing reviews for books that are hailed as classics is a very easy and difficult thing to do at the same time. There are countless reviews, papers and studies on such books out there that it makes it a breeze to Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V from them and yet what does one say that has not been said before ? To me this is a story of anarchy seeping into a shaky yet stable social structure. In a subtle way, it is the story of how a riot might overrun a city, an armed uprising topple a government and other such occurrences. There is a Ralph in every politician and business leader which involves a lot of meetings,parliamentary tactics, conversations and yet very little swift action. Most of these logical yet slow decisions are aimed at the larger good than the shorter goal or so they make us believe. On the other hand is Jack, who beats inside the breast of every rebel and revolutionary who ever took up arms against the establishment : swift, bloody action, the end justifying the means and a lot of pain, scars and tears and not much more to show in the end. Complacency and very little action spurs a populace into anarchy and a figurehead of a leader takes up their fight. Very little do they realize the futility of such gestures. Like lambs to slaughter they are led from one evil to another. The boys torn between the logical yet indecisive Ralph and the wild,passionate, brutal Jack represented people the world over to me. These two paths always lie open before us and every day in countless little ways, we choose one of those paths.What of Piggy then ? From the point of view of the story, he is the one bullied upon : weak,obese and a natural place to vent the ire of any smart kid. The difference was that the grey matter that hummed inside his head while being boringly pragmatic was the only voice of reason in that island. Was he thus an outcast owing to his intellect among men of physical prowess ? I think not, Piggy symbolically represents calm,composure and ultimately maddeningly slow pacifism in a world full of noise. As usually happens with such sore thumbs, the poor soul is wiped out in the end and in a quite bloody fashion. No mob would ever want a person standing against it to take breath again as history has shown as time and again. It is a little slow at times and the symbolic references tended to suffocate me at times so much so that I had to stop reading at places. I would then wonder is that what he meant or was it something else ? Most often than not, the underlying meanings are manifold. A small yet powerful book, much recommended.

Inês

Já tinha ouvido falar deste livro muitas vezes, já tinha pegado nele outras tantas, mas guardava uma relutância irracional acabando sempre por dar prioridade a outros. Talvez fosse o nome, talvez fosse a ideia de uma leitura pesada e pouco cativante. Mas "O Deus das moscas" não é nada disso. A leitura é confortável e encorajadora. Não é propriamente um livro ligeiro e tem até alguns parágrafos difíceis de decifrar, quando os acontecimentos são descritos em simultâneo por diferentes pontos de vista, mas, no geral, lê-se bem.Igualmente não esperava que a história fosse sobre miúdos numa ilha deserta. Não é com certeza o argumento mais original de sempre, mas é preciso dar o crédito a um livro que foi escrito nos anos 50 e à forma como assistimos ao desenrolar de uma história que deixa de ser o mais importante. O que interessa mesmo é que cada um de nós olhe para aquelas personagens e imagine, não só como se comportaria nas mesmas situações, mas como o fariam as pessoas com quem convivemos diariamente e com as quais definimos uma posição na sociedade. Gosto do pormenor dos miúdos civilizados serem sempre tratados pelos nomes e dos outros começarem gradualmente a ser, um por um, apenas definidos como selvagens. Nenhum deles é agora um indivíduo, fazem apenas parte de um grupo e agem todos da mesma maneira, como um grupo de animais. Gosto também da preocupação que Rafael demonstra em manter-se limpo, com o cabelo alinhado e a forma como repara na apresentação dos restantes. Poucos se preocupam com isso. Lembrei-me imediatamente de uma passagem no "Se isto é um homem", em que um dos presos diz a Levi que o facto de todos os dias se lavar de manhã é precisamente o que o separa dos animais, é a dignidade que nenhum homem lhe pode tirar. Gostei deste livro. Ainda assim são 4 estrelas a descair para as 3.

Brad

Can someone tell me where the anarchy lies in this book?All I can remember about discussing this book in high school is that it was supposed to be about anarchy, about how we descend into madness and "chaos" without law and order to hold our childlike hands. Every time I've overheard a conversation about LOTFs since, it has been the same thing: somewhere in the discussion someone mentions anarchy, as though that one word can sum up everything Golding was doing. Even the afterword by E.L. Epstien calls "Jack ... the leader of the forces of anarchy on the island," and still I wonder "Where is the anarchy?"I don't see it anywhere. Anarchy reigned on the island for all of ... what? Eight pages in my edition. Then Ralph pulls up the conch and anarchy is over. The conch comes, the meeting is called, and society rears its ugly head, and that felt to me like the point of Golding's book -- the ineluctable need to "civilize" ourselves and what that civilizing drive really looks like.It's a fucking ugly drive. Many see Ralph as the best of the kids, the natural leader who is looking out for the good of the many. I don't see it. I see a selfish little shit, whose only desire is to leave the island (a desire that I think has little value or necessity) and return to civilization, and while stuck on the island to build himself a shelter so that he can play "society" as comfortably as possible. He tells everyone and us that they need shelter, but the actual need for shelter never appears beyond Ralph's constant bitching. He becomes the leader of the democratic government, leaves too much power to Jack and the hunters so that he can avoid early conflict, then spends his entire time telling everyone what is important, what they should care about, and he can't stand it when they have different priorities. Everyone was eating, breathing and drinking, Ralph (apart from those your need for a fire burned to death the first day). They didn't need you or your rule as "chief."Then there's Piggy. Whiny, bright ideas Piggy, always pissing and moaning about right and wrong. Always needing others to police those who "wrong him" always wanting to make more rules, always opining about the need for them all to be more civilized. Always backing Ralph to exert his power, to use the conch to gain control, to talk and impose his will on the littluns and the hunters. He's in fear for himself, and he's more than willing to have other impose their will on still others to make him feel safe. But he takes no personal responsibility. He talks and talks and lectures and lectures but never does.Then there is Jack. I don't think he's really any worse than Ralph, nor do I think he is better. He has other priorites that are just as fucking selfish. He wants meat. He believes that more food, better food, should be the priority -- and he's sure that his position as the strongest, the best provider, should give him a right to power. He doesn't give a shit about the fire and rescue. Then he -- like Ralph in practice and Piggy in support -- places his own idea of society on the group, and like Ralph he's responsible for some deaths. Ralph gets away with his deaths in the minds of readers because they were a foolish "mistake," and the killing of Simon is too personal and bloody to be forgiven, so Jack is seen as the force for evil on the island. Yet the catalyst for the killing of Simon was genuine (albeit misplaced) fear and superstition of "the Beast" they all (not just Jack) talked themselves into. Ultimately he rejects Ralph's power, Ralph's vision for their society, and he sets up his own, with his own rules and regulations and controls and defenses.And now I go back again to the question I can't stop thinking about: Where is the anarchy? I don't see any anarchy here (unless it is in the nameless, faceless, uncared for littluns that populate Ralph's benevolent dictatorship. It's important to note, since I am talking about them, that Jack makes his littluns an active part of his tribe, while Ralph barely notices their existence. Nice leadership, Ralph). I see imposition of social constructs, I see a drive to law and order, I see a desire to remake the social structures from whence they came. I see imposition of control at every turn, and it's a control that instantly takes on the trappings of a "system" with rules and rituals and imposed consequences.Don't misunderstand me. I am not espousing anarchy as a real world possibility (it is an ideal that fascinates me, but I know that it is a practical impossibility); I am not saying it would have made for better living conditions on the island (although I highly doubt it would have made them worse); but I am saying that I never saw anything approaching anarchy in Golding's writing, unless it was as the unspoken, hinted at ideal of a world beyond "civilizing" influences.What I did see was Golding telling us that all our instincts to govern and control and civilize have dire, ugly and pitiable consequences, no matter where we sit politically or philosophically. I saw it in Ralph and Piggy and Jack, and it was driven home when the naval officer -- the "saviour" of the boys on the island -- saved them from their own little wars to return to a "grown-up" society at war, playing the same ugly games on a grander, uglier scale. I saw a mirror, and I didn't like what Golding made me see.

matt

Ok, so I have a pet theory. I think that this book is added to countless high school English curricula because its part of an insidious brainwashing attempt by THE POWERS THAT BE to try and discourage progressive thought among impressionable high school kids.I mean, remember, the whole point of the book is that people can't be left to their own devices ("the defects in human society are because of the defects in human nature" quoth my squeaky voiced Sophmore English teacher) because of their natural faults and failures and if left alone without a strong leader or tradition or what-have-you to keep 'em in line they'll all turn to Satanism and Paganism and shit. Screaming for pig's blood and all that.It's Hobbesian, it's reductive and it's unnecessarily cynical about human nature. If we all agree that man is rotten to the core, and what's more, irredeemably so rotten that they'll throw the geeky kid to the sharks and tear each other limb from limb then there's really no point to try and create a Utopian space or at least a democratic pluralism, because that shit will come a'tumblin' down once the kids are let out of sight. I don't think Humanity (with a capital-H) abandons Reason (with a capital-R) as easily and as blithely as Golding seems to suggest. I'm not really much of an optimist about human nature but I don't think we're one plane crash and deserted island away from cannibalism and bad table manners. More to the point, reading a pretty well-written and engaging novel like this one is all well and good but if you have generations of earnest and/or solicitous Sophomores repeating talking points about the hopeless barbarity of human civilization and being rewarded for it with the grades they covet, you're laying the groundwork for people being less interested or involved in *actual* progression or advancement of social structures, etc. Think about it.

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio

BOYS WILL BE BOYS THERE'S A PIG'S HEAD.

Lynne King

“You are a silly little boy,” said the Lord of the Flies, “just an ignorant, silly little boy.”Simon moved his swollen tongue but said nothing.“Don’t you agree?” said the Lord of the Flies. “Aren’t you just a silly little boy?”Simon answered him in the same silent voice (how can you have a silent voice?).“Well then,” said the Lord of the Flies, “you’d better run off and play with the others. They think you’re batty. You don’t want Ralph to think you’re batty do you? You like Ralph a lot, don’t you? And Piggy and Jack?”I confess that I did specifically look for this first mention of the Lord of the Flies before I really began to read this book. I had heard of “The Lord of the Flies” by William Golding but I had never had the inclination to read the book, so when I couldn’t find a book shop recently, I unexpectedly came across it in a charity shop. The teenager next to me saw me wavering over purchasing it (it certainly wasn’t the price at 79p!). He smiled and said he was sure I would thoroughly enjoy reading it. It was the cover that had captured my attention; the background was orange and covered with ugly little savages, a couple of snakes and other strange looking creatures. I think that one was meant to be a pig.I found the work somewhat confusing at the beginning, leaving a lot to the imagination but then perhaps that was the point? It actually took me a while to determine what exactly the “scar” was on the first page. I finally assumed that it must be the plane that had crashed according to the blurb on the back cover:“The boy with the fair hair lowered himself down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way towards the lagoon…All round him the long scar smashed into the jungle was a bath of heat.”There was mention of the plane being attacked, the subsequent fire, and finally the crash when we meet the first two survivors on the desert island. There’s schoolboy Ralph, who’s a rather good looking twelve year old, who meets “Piggy”, a bespectacled rather fat boy who soon proves to be the most intelligent member of the finally assembled group of boys. The joy that they had when they realized that they were in a non-adult society and they could do whatever they wanted!“No grown-ups!”They both soon wondered whether there were other survivors and it wasn’t until Ralph finds a conch shell and blows into it that all the other boys on the island slowly trickle in. But what I found odd was that there were no girls around. However, knowing how men/boys love their “toys”, and the idea of young girls entering the equation, well sexual ideas could no doubt have caused problems. Perhaps the author decided to stay with boys as this book was written in 1954.When the choir group appears with Jack as the apparent leader, I found their attire was odd in that:“Each boy wore a square black cap with a silver badge in it…. They were hidden by black cloaks which bore a long silver cross on the left breast and each neck was finished off with a hambone frill.”I then wondered if there was a religious and Godly aspect to be examined here. One associates goodness and beautiful voices with choirs and this would soon change with the unexpected alteration in Jack’s personality. He wanted to be the chief but Ralph, by popular vote of the group, already held that position and anarchy soon sets in.The main characters appear to represent good and evil in a society that reverts back to its savage roots. Ralph is the survivor, lights a fire and wants the fire to be permanently maintained so that they can be saved, and he is aided by Piggy in this respect. Whereas Jack wants to start hunting, with his spear, and reverts to a savage state with his group when pigs are found in the jungle. Roger helps him. Simon appears to be on the margins. The interesting pair, the twins, “the littleuns”, Sam and Eric, become Samneric, thus showing that they have lost their unique individuality. They support Ralph but get captured by Jack, when the children split up into two groups. The twins had been the first to set the jittery idea of the “beastie”and “the snake thing” in motion.There is a particularly horrendous part when Jack et al come across a sow with her piglets. Savagery is their reason for being with the chief and his members, like Jack, are covered in war paint. There is the determination of Jack to hunt Ralph down and kill him and the incident when Simon meets the Lord of the Flies. I didn’t really understand the symbolism of this, and perhaps there isn’t any and it is purely a children’s book with no hidden agenda.I found the refrain “Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!” rather disturbing.The themes of fire, death, violence and the importance of Piggy’s glasses to make a fire, run throughout the book; showing how easily a supposedly civilized society can revert back to the times of the cave man when survival was all that mattered. The ending was somewhat trite with fire playing a large part in it.I think this book is exceptionally well written but would I like to reread it? No, I don’t think so. The confusion in the book was the main stumbling block for me and I read books purely for pleasure.

Verónica

Simply, it is such an excellent and influential novel of adventure with a story that is incredibly interesting and entertaining, which is also dramatic and emotional. It takes place in a very unusual setting and explains and shows what we can become if we do not have respect, rules and order which could cause deadly and irreversible chaos. The author, William Golding, describes the novel in a deep and detailed manner not wanting to leave out any insignificant detail; so it makes the story more real and authentic. His writing style is simple but the thematic matter is deep. Golding does a good job showing the emotional states and fully developed personalities of each character throughout the story and he makes the story come alive with significant use of symbolism in the characters and in simple objects. Also he describes each of the points of the island as well as the cruelest moments. For this reason the way he describes things are amazing, genuine and powerful.During the middle of World War II, a plane crashes on an unknown island, abandoning a group of British schoolboys. The boys are all young, the oldest ones are not more than twelve years, and the island is apparently peaceful and beautiful. At first, there are no adults there; so their freedom and independence is something they celebrate and enjoy. This far from civilization they can do anything they want without being scolded and punished. But as order collapses and terror begins its reign, the hope of adventure seems as far removed from reality as the hope of being rescued. It is a story that definitely makes you think about society, the integrity of people and reveals the evil and cruel component of humanity. It reveals how we can become at times if we do not control ourselves or our impulses, whether or not we are the person who imposes order and how it can change or transform us into something dangerous, frightening and unknown, which makes us do things we never dared or imagined.It is a great book, entertaining, exciting and easy to read. I greatly enjoyed this book and I liked the story because it is thrilling and fast-moving; how it shows the kids on an unknown island and the things they do and dared to do in order to survive and be rescued. Each chapter has something exciting and interesting; and the more I read it, the more I got into it. For this reason, I would definitely recommend it.

Karson

Just read this book actually. Didn't read it in school growing up. I must have skipped over it or something. I was drawn in very fast by the exciting premise. Kids on an island! No adults! Kind of like that movie Camp Nowhere except more morbid. I was carried through the book quickly until somewhere in the middle I began to lose steam, but then i was drawn back in towards the end of the book by the profundity of the statement Golding was trying to make. I was trying to figure it out. It asks the question "What is the heart of a human being?" What do we do when we think no one is looking? What are our deepest motivations, and what makes us tick? When Jack's tribe puts on their war paint it is like they can do what they truly want to do. They feel freed. Like their new uniforms are responsible for their actions, not the person beneath the paint. It is interesting to see what people will do when they feel truly uninhibited, though the actions of Jacks tribe really reflect the condition of HIS heart, not the conditions of the individual members of his tribe since they were coerced to join by Jack himself. ANYWAYS! It is my personal opinion that great beauty comes out of this free uninhibited place we have inside us all, not just darkness. I would have liked to see at least a scene or a symbol in this book for the bright side as well as the dark side of humanity. Maybe one of the kids makes a sweet sick ass sandcastle that stretches to the heavens or something and all the kids celebrated its completion. That sounds more like Peter Pan in Neverland though. Hey! Maybe that will be the next kids vs. adults book I read!

Emily May

Kids are evil. Don't you know?I've just finished rereading this book for my book club but, to be honest, I've liked it ever since my class were made to read it in high school. Overall, Lord of the Flies doesn't seem to be very popular, but I've always liked the almost Hobbesian look at the state of nature and how humanity behaves when left alone without societal rules and structures. Make the characters all angel-faced kids with sadistic sides to their personality and what do you have? Just your average high school drama, but set on a desert island. With a bit more bloody murder. But not that much more.In 1954, when this book was published, Britain was in the process of being forced to face some harsh realities that it had blissfully chosen to ignore beforehand - that it is not, in fact, the centre of the universe, and the British Empire was not a thing of national pride, but an embarrassing infringement on the freedom and rights of other human beings. Much of British colonialism had been justified as a self-righteous mission to educate and modernise foreign "savages". So when put into its historical context, alongside the decolonisation movements, this book could be said to be an interesting deconstruction of white, Western supremacy. This is not a tale of "savages" who were raised in poor, rural villages... but a story about upper middle class, privately-educated, silver-spoon boys.I can understand why some people interpret this book as racist. The racial aspect is a big factor, Golding establishes from the very first page that Ralph is not only white, but WHITE. And Piggy even asks "Which is better - to be a pack of painted niggers like you are or to be sensible like Ralph is?" I'm not going to argue with anyone's interpretation, it would be difficult to say exactly what Golding intended, but I think there is room to see this as the opposite of racism. For me, I always saw it as Golding challenging the notion of savages being dark-skinned, uneducated people from rural areas. With this book, he says screw that, I'll show you savages! and proceeds to show us how these little jewels of the empire are no better for their fancy education and gold-plated upbringing.I think that seemed especially clear from the ending when the officer says "I should have thought that a pack of British boys - you're all British, aren't you? - would have been able to put up a better show than that." Golding's way of saying that human nature is universal and no one can escape it.Some readers say that you have to have quite a negative view of human nature already to appreciate this book, but I don't think that's true. I'm not sure I necessarily agree with all the implications running around in the novel - namely, the failure of democracy and the pro-authority stance - but it serves as an interesting look at the dark side of human nature and how no one is beyond its reach. Plus, anyone who had a bit of a rough time in high school will probably not find the events in this book a huge leap of the imagination. The fascinating thing about Lord of the Flies is the way many historical parallels can be drawn from the messages it carries. You could choose to view the charismatic and manipulative Jack Merridew as a kind of Hitler (or other dictator) who takes advantage of a group of people at their weakest. Dictators and radicals often find it easy to slip in when a society is in chaos... we do not have to assume that Golding believed that everyone everywhere is evil, only that we all have the capacity for it when we find ourselves in unstable situations.Still a fascinating book after all these years.

Callum

Any piece that can concurrently delve into the nature, psychology, callowness, volatility and savagery of children exposed to an isolated dystopia should provide for a rich, somewhat intriguing piece of literature, right? Unfortunately, I found this awkward, thinly constructed parable on humanity's ultimate inevitability toward entropy a weak exercise. The author's moral viewpoints are represented through his characters, making the conflict far more simplistic and condensed, never really enters the behaviourism of his characters, not successfully at least. It's made clear that the students who centre the story are brought up on strict formalities, and an almost cartoonish sense of etiquette. This makes for an intriguing premise, especially when conflict is eminent. Basically, these are young men of a higher caste, educated in a militaristic fashion being exposed to both freedom and isolation. Even the smallest form of conflict is made apparent, with the introduction of a conch. This was a strong opening to the novel, because at the same time he was able to provide both civility and discordance among the students.However, two characters stick out like a sore thumb. Jack and Ralph. Obviously, there's going to be a conflict between children, it's human nature. However, it is made too obvious what moral viewpoint the character represents. A great author wouldn't make it so obvious which side he sees as 'good' or 'bad' but rather develop a sense of ambiguity among his characters, but there isn't a semblance of that here. And it isn't only with the characters Jack and Ralph either.There are characters like Piggy and Simon who are probably the only levelheaded characters in the story. And of course, they are the subject of Golding's torment. I don't hate symbolism, I don't hate it when symbolism is presented through a character, but instead of coming off as thought-provoking or compelling, it's instructive. He lays thick all of his beliefs, not allowing any ambivalence creep into his story.All the wrongdoings toward the 'good' characters are fine, but the aim is far too precise. It seems that the only reason to abuse and batter his protagonists are purely to make martyrs out of them. And it's always been confusing as to why only three kids can find some sense out of the situation. All the kids are from the same school, they are cut from the same cloth and are educated in the same environment, yet it's the outcasts, or the good guys who are the only characters in the story who seem to be liberal, and show some sense of conservatism. But of course, he wants to show the deterioration of a civilized system. This is a subject worth exploring, but as I said before, the character Jack sticks out like a sore thumb. Before any order within the island is eradicated, Jack is all ready established as the story's villain. It's okay to display characters clashing over power, but Jack isn't simply looking for power fix. Golding makes him anti-conservative, sadomasochistic, anarchic, autocratic and ruthless — without being psychotic — before anything really happens in the story.Ralph, Simon and Piggy are simply William Golding's physical manifestations of everything good and sensible. They are a minority within the story not because that's an accurate depiction of children but because he has no other way to make them significant. His beliefs aren't very flashy, and quite frankly, Golding isn't a very strong storyteller. The undertones he permeates are fine, but his execution is flawed and condescension toward them is distracting. Golding can't even retain a bit of subtlety with his symbolism by the end of his novel. He presents his didactic viewpoints through his characters just as sleazily as he does with his themes and morality. Sure, these are strong virtues he's presenting, but he surrenders truth and complexity by making his characters symbolic and thematic stand-ins rather than actual characters. The novel wasn't all bad, I liked the juxtaposition between the children's conflict to that of their adult counterparts. And I loved the concept. But he reduces them with achingly instructive, allegorical and preachy methodology.

Zaki

What happens when a group of school boys get marooned on a desert island following a plane crash?They've got no adult authority.They all descend into savagery. Golding highlights our edgy similarity to the spirit of wild beasts. This is replete with biblical motifs.

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