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

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.

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.

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!

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.

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

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?

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.

Riku Sayuj

This tends to me among the top five books I recommend to anyone who cares to ask.Questioning and undermining Rousseau's 'noble savage' was one of its essential goals (as Alan mentions below), hence the positioning of a classic dystopia in an idyllic setting and the choice of 'boy-scout' perfect protagonists. It is as good a dystopic novel as they come. And essential because most dystopic novels were set in urban settings, giving the illusion that extreme control leads to dystopia. Golding shows that extreme freedom can too.It is a great work because it speaks so truly of the human tendency away from organized civilization. To me, the one fault is the ending -- the time scale given to the thought experiment was too narrow, allowing only one swing of the societal pendulum.

Mister Jones

A disclaimer: it wasn't my idea to read this book; a colleague selected this book as part of our students' summer reading program.If there was a time in my life that I liked this book, it must have been in the wee hormonal epoch of my early youth. Frankly, I didn't like it. I found myself not having any empathy for the characters; I found the prose rather tedious, and the plot obviously contrived, and it seemed that Golding made a particular, but obvious effort to attempt to tie everything in with symbolic value. It was a book that I begged for immediate merciful closure.A good point: I will not teach this novel during our normal school sessions, and in that aspect, I thought it was a illuminating read.

Jennifer

Lord of the Flies written by William Golding is about a large group of private school boys that end up stranded on a deserted island after their plane crashes. Due to the war that is happening in reality at the time of the crash the boys wonder if this was a crash, or an attack. Either way, one thing becomes clear to them rather quickly. They are without any adult supervision which they find frightning and exciting all at once. Though there are many different characters in this story, four main boys stood out for me. Ralph, the born leader, likable and well spoken. He was the most logical of the boys. Though at first he too was thrilled to be stranded without adults, he quickly put things in perspective and knew what had to be done to acclomplish their quick rescue, and that was to keep a fire burning for any in coming ships to see their smoke. Ralph, as elected leader, did not relish in his authority, but geniunely cared about the group of boys and had their best interest at heart. Piggy had their best interests at heart as well. Another senisible boy, even more intelligent than Ralph. He was able to think quicker than Ralph. However Piggy lacked respect for his poor social skills and for his outward appearrence of a portly boy with specticles, "ass-mar", and an annoying habit of constant whinning. Though Piggy annoyed Ralph as well, Ralph was able to see the good qualities Piggy had as well and valued his opinion on just about everything, actually relied on it most of the time.Jack, not exactly a born leader, except in his own eyes. Jack felt he should have been elected the leader and when he wasn't he announced he was in charge of hunting for meat. In this new role he had given himself, he put the boys at risk for making hunting the top priority instead of getting rescued. This was one of the first events that would put the boys against each other.Simon was the most innocent of the boys. A sensitive boy who cared about their safety and unification. A boy with alot to say, but unfortionatly had an awful time speaking to the group because of his shyness. An event that takes place between the other boys and Simon signifies the true loss of innocense and humanity amoung most of the boys.I thought this was a great book, though very sad and terrifing at times. Being a mother I couldn't help thinking about how these boys parents felt about their missing sons. Ironically Golding did not have these boys pinning for their parents, but had most of them(with the exception of Ralph and Piggy)adjusting to the island as though they were never to be rescued and converting back to uncivilized savages in a matter of weeks. I wonder if the characters were girls, how different the story would have been. I personally would like to think we would have remained more civilized. On second thought, as viscous as young girls can be, the number of casualities would probably have been doubled.

Jason Pettus

(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com:]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)The CCLaP 100: In which I read for the first time a hundred so-called "classics," then write reports on whether or not they deserve the labelEssay #46: Lord of the Flies (1954), by William GoldingThe story in a nutshell:First published in the beginning years of Mid-Century Modernism but not a bestseller until a decade later, William Golding's 1954 Lord of the Flies is a look at a group of high-class British schoolboys who end up stranded on a literal eden of a tropical island, after the outbreak of a speculative World War Three takes down the plane they were on and kills the pilot. At first the situation seems like an adult-free, clothing-optional Paradise on Earth*, but like all humans, the boys quickly realize that they will have to work together in order to survive; and at first they actually do a pretty good job at making a British stiff-upper-lip go at it, forming a direct democracy of sorts with the intelligent and charismatic Ralph naturally emerging as their leader, and his annoyingly nerdy overweight friend Piggy representing the docile middle-class who are apt to blindly obey whatever random authority figure happens to be in charge. But alas, this being the human race, there of course must be a violent, sociopathic powermonger among their group as well -- the truly scary Jack Merridew, that is, who even came to the island with his own private militia, the children's choir he had already been the bullying leader of back in civilization, and who appoint themselves the official food providers for the castaways on the constant hunt for meat, a situation that quickly degenerates into insular tribalism and the literal painting of war-marks on their faces.When this perpetual hunting, then, interferes one day with the maintenance of their signal fire, ruining a random chance they had of getting rescued, a Soviet-style power struggle for their nascent society suddenly starts forming; and by exploiting the fear of a mythical "Beast" that supposedly lives in the island's interior (obviously a metaphor for the controlling power of organized religion), believed in without question by the population of small children who have formed their own Neverland-like subculture away from the older boys (a symbol for the literal unwashed, mouth-breathing masses), Jack is able through deceit and superstition to wrest authority from Ralph and effectively become their society's bloodthirsty leader. That then leads by the book's climax to a literal assassination hunt through the jungle for the fleeing Ralph, saved only at the last moment by the deus-ex-machina appearance of the adult military again, although with it being heavily implied that the apocalyptic war they are heading back to will make their island travails seem like a cakewalk in comparison.The argument for it being a classic:Well, for starters, Golding was eventually a winner of the coveted Nobel Prize for Literature; and this is without question the most famous book of his career, making it a natural title to turn to when wanting to explore the best of what the Mid-Century Modernist arts had to offer, a book that by now has been read by tens of millions of people because of it eventually becoming a staple of high-school literature classes. And then of course there's the fact that it's simply a great book, argue its fans, an exciting and surprise-filled page-turner containing a powerful message about the true nature of human behavior, a message eagerly eaten up in the '50s and '60s by the bitter survivors of World War Two who were now staring down the barrel of the atomic gun known as the Cold War. Add to this the fact that, much like The Catcher in the Rye from those same years, this was one of the first books to eventually define the now-hot Young Adult (or YA) industry, and you have a title that its fans argue should rightly be considered a classic no matter which way you look at it.The argument against:The main argument against Lord of the Flies being a classic seems to be that it simply isn't as good as its fans claim it is, in reality a clunkily-written potboiler that telegraphs its plot turns with almost no subtlety at all, and that the only reason it's as well-known as it is is because of its patently obvious symbolism being the best thing to ever happen to lazy high-school lit teachers worldwide. (Yes, yes, Simon is Jesus! I get it, Mrs. Hobart, I freaking get it!) Although few seem to dispute that it remains an exciting actioner for kids, and violent little boys in particular, there are lots of people out there who claim that this is all this YA groundbreaker is, and shouldn't even be considered eligible for "classic" status among the adult literary canon.My verdict:So much like my experience reading The Catcher in the Rye last year for the first time, I'm split in my opinion of Lord of the Flies after now reading it for the first time too; because although I definitely found it an undeniably thrilling book, I also wholeheartedly agree that it will be of interest mostly just to teen readers, and that in fact it probably would've never been considered for adult "classic" status in the first place if the YA industry had already been established when it first came out. And that's really what makes YA such a tricky genre, as we've seen by the recent grown-up popularity of authors like John Reed, Sarah Dessen and Stephanie Meyer; because what the term really means is that these books are fully adult when it comes to plot sophistication, overall message, and the things at stake among its characters, just that the books themselves are written with young people occupying most of the main parts, and in a style designed to not go over the heads of most young readers. So does that make a book like this a classic or not? Obviously, if you were talking just about the influence it's had over the formation of the YA industry, the answer would unequivocally be yes, and obviously no matter what the answer, it still remains an exciting book that most people in the early 2000s will still really enjoy (that is, if you can get past its evermore rapidly passe slang, with the book chock-full of quaint '50s terms like, "Ah, nuts to ya!"); but since ultimately this is an essay series about adult books designed expressly for adult readers, Lord of the Flies under this definition squeaks in just under the line where I myself would consider it a classic, and I have a feeling that it will be one of the first titles of this entire series to eventually be forgotten by society as a whole as the future progresses. Although I definitely recommend it if you've never actually read it before (and think it should be required reading for any inquisitive teen in your life), I can't in good conscience call it a book that I think everyone must read before they die.Is it a classic? No(And don't forget that the first 33 essays in this series are now available in book form!)*And indeed, Golding used to freely admit that this novel was originally inspired by such boys' paradise novels like Treasure Island and The Coral Island, and how ridiculously unrealistic he thought they were.

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.

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio

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

David

I just don't buy it.This book is famous for unmasking what brutes we are, just under the surface, but, well, for all the hype, it just isn't convincing. People--even teenage boys--just aren't as savage as Golding seems to want us to believe, and nothing in this book persuades me otherwise.Perhaps if I'd gone to English boarding school I'd feel differently--but then that's the real irony of this book, that the brutality from which the British Empire was supposed to save so many people and cultures was in fact the Brits projecting their own savagery onto others.But the rest of us, no, we aren't monsters underneath. A little messed up, maybe, a little more raw, but nowhere near the kind of brutes that Golding wants us to believe.

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