The Lord of the Flies

ISBN: 0141800968
ISBN 13: 9780141800967
By: William Golding Tim Pigott-Smith

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

About this book

Lord of the Flies , William Golding's classic tale about a group of English schoolboys who are plane-wrecked on a deserted island, is just as chilling and relevant today as when it was first published in 1954. At first, the stranded boys cooperate, attempting to gather food, make shelters, and maintain signal fires. Overseeing their efforts are Ralph, "the boy with fair hair," and Piggy, Ralph's chubby, wisdom-dispensing sidekick whose thick spectacles come in handy for lighting fires. Although Ralph tries to impose order and delegate responsibility, there are many in their number who would rather swim, play, or hunt the island's wild pig population. Soon Ralph's rules are being ignored or challenged outright. His fiercest antagonist is Jack, the redheaded leader of the pig hunters, who manages to lure away many of the boys to join his band of painted savages. The situation deteriorates as the trappings of civilization continue to fall away, until Ralph discovers that instead of being hunters, he and Piggy have become the hunted: "He forgot his words, his hunger and thirst, and became fear; hopeless fear on flying feet." Golding's gripping novel explores the boundary between human reason and animal instinct, all on the brutal playing field of adolescent competition. --Jennifer Hubert

Reader's Thoughts

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.

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.

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!

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.

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"]>

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

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.

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio

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

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.

Marka

I HATE THIS BOOK!!!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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