Lord of the Flies

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

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Genres

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

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio

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

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!

Marka

I HATE THIS BOOK!!!

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.

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.

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.

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"]>

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.

Shayantani Das

Rating: 3.5 A group of British boys get stranded on an island after their plane crashes. At first, the kids revel in their freedom, and lack of an authority figure. But slowly, these well educated kids turn into savages, and give way to their natural animalistic side. The political and biblical undertones of this novel are very interesting. So is symbolism of the conch shell and lord of the flies. It has a deeper meaning than what meets the eye. I think the characters, and their development through out the novel, makes the book what it is. We have a reasonable and calm Ralph, a violent and impulsive Jack, the overweight and intelligent Piggy and the spiritual Simon. No villain or heroes in this novel; we only have perfectly civilized pre-adolescents, who in the lack of an authority figure and a society, react, in different ways. Golding’s portrays Ralph as someone not completely immune to violence, has self doubt and is uncertain about the presence of the "beast". He makes mistakes, is a bit vain, and very very real.Similarly all the other characters too have a lot of depth. Their actions (though horrific) don’t seem so incredulous. They add the real charm to the book and keeps it from being unrealistic.Now coming to the things that I didn’t like. First would be the abruptness of the ending. Feels like, Golding suddenly had something very important to do, and wrapped up this incredible story, terribly hastily. I as a reader feel cheated about it. We at least deserved a final confrontation between Ralph and Jack. You can’t make so much happen in the last 4 chapters and then end a book like this. Not fair at all!Secondly, 200 something pages are not enough to have so much happening at the same time. I have come across several novels which have exasperated me with their length, unnecessary information and their detailed descriptions of the scenery. This would be the first novel which has made me crave for more pages (not in the good way, in the necessary way). Golding may not have made it LOTR long, but a minimum of 500 pages is required to do full justice to a topic like this. Finally, my recommendation would be to read this novel at your own risk. I can understand how many people wouldn’t like it a bit, so I am not taking any responsibility. As for my opinion, I thought that this book offers a very authentic, disturbing and convincing portrayal of man’s descent to savagery and his inherent lust for violence.

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.

Andrew

I was tempted to give this five stars, since in so many ways it strikes me as the kind of masterpiece, like Heart of Darkness, that I imagine will retain its horror and readability for centuries. The prose veers (or as Golding would say it, "tends") from plain to painterly. The story is well known: a sort of allegorical morality play set in modern times -- fancy English boys left to their own devices don't so much as revert to darkness as discover primitive outlets for the darkness reflected in their greater society. This is what I love about Heart of Darkness: try as one might, Kurtz cannot be pigeonholed into good or evil. He is excellent at what he does, and what he does is evil. Kurtz is a true reflection of what excellence was to Colonial Europe, and in so far as Colonial Europe was good, cultivated, honorable, and esteemed, so is Kurtz. Kurtz isn't good or evil; he is true. Golding's version is darker. It centers mostly around the corrupting power of urges to overwhelm social order. Freudian criticism abounds, but the parallel I kept coming back to was Rome. I found that Piggy, no matter how truly annoying he is (another brilliant stroke by Golding is to make Piggy strangely unsympathetic), recalled those numerous Republicans of the Early Empire who advocated in a shrill but useless manner for a return to Senate rule but were shunted aside and usually killed by deranged sociopaths who behaved quite like like Jack. But be it Freudian or historic, any framing of this book feels cheap and hollow because the story has such a complexity of primal urges that it feels almost biological. Golding said he came up with the idea of book after reading his children "Treasure Island or Coral Island or some such Island" in the years of the hydrogen bomb and Stalin and asked his wife, "why don't I write a children's story about how people really are, about how people actually behave?" To me that's a chilling question and it reveals an architecture not based on rigid Freudian or historical or symbolic parallels. Its portrait of sadism could have been lifted out of the newspapers; its struggle for dominion over the weak is an almost sexual frenzy recalls everything I know about torture in the dungeons of Argentine or US military prisons. In this respect, I think the book, like Heart of Darkness, is timeless. But I chose not to give it five stars because at the center of Golding's book is a kind of rigid Christian iconography, like that you find in the Poisonwood Bible, that offends me, perhaps because it reminds me of the way I wrote my Freshman year of college, or perhaps because that rigidity, that allegiance to a=b symbolic logic insults my intelligence. The martyrdom of Simon, I felt, demeaned the human quality of Simon. I liked him best because he struck me as the most shrewd and practical. Reducing him to an icon transforms him into a variable: Simon = Paul or Peter or whomever, but ergo facto Simon ≠ Simon. When he comes down to the beach mutting "something about a body on a hill" Simon ceases to be a reflection of human complexity, or biological completeness, and instead becomes a rehashed precedent from Sunday school. I've often felt that Heart of Darkness' genius was that it somehow reflected the effect of Darwin and modern thinking on the antiquated ideas of Colonial Europe, ie Kurtz isn't good or evil because good and evil are artifices that wilt beneath analysis. When Golding adheres to this materialist perspective, the book is masterly. When he swears allegiance to worn out Christian parables, that complexity is reduced to slips of paper.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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