Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Perigee Books, New York, 2006
I own this one.
For Banned Books Week I decided to read a young adult classic that has been repeatedly challenged and banned in the US and Canada. I am also including this one in my books for the R.I.P. VI challenge.
This novel was required reading for me in high school. I read it again in college and, after several decades, have chosen to read it one more time.
This story of a group of boys who survive a plane crash on a small island is probably familiar to many people. It is, on the surface, a tale of adventure. On their own, with no adults, the boys can do what they want. At first there is a sense of order and camaraderie as Ralph, and his friend Piggy attempt to organize the group. The boys gather food, plan to build shelters and organize the keeping of a signal fire. Soon another boy, Jack, gathers a group and takes off to hunt the wild pigs that roam the island. Jack wants to lead, invites dissension and eventually something like war. A tale of adventure turns to a story of horror and madness.
According to Golding, Lord of The Flies is not simply an adventure story. When asked he stated, “The theme is an attempt to trace the defect of society back to the defects of human nature. The moral is that society must depend on the ethical nature of the individual and not on any political system however apparently logical or respectable.”*
I found it to be a narrative on personality, the place of individuals in human society and on group mind, mob mentality. Of course these are children, would adults behave the same way?
Lord of the Flies wonderfully written, filled with beautiful evocative scenes and nightmarish horror. I read it deeper this time. It is one of those “required” reading books that I found best read as an adult.
The first rhythm that they became used to was the slow swing from dawn to dusk. They accepted the pleasures of the morning, the bright sun, the whelming sea and the sweet air, as a time when play was good and life so full that hope was not necessary and therefore forgotten. Toward noon, as the floods of light fell more nearly to the perpendicular, the stark colors of the morning were smoothed to pearl and opalescence; and the heat – as though the impending sun’s height gave it momentum – became a blow that they ducked, running to the shade and lying there, prehaps even sleeping. From page 58.
Toward midnight the rain ceased and the clouds drifted away, so that the sky was scattered once more with the incredible lamps of stars. Then the breeze died too and there was no noise save the drip and trickle of water that ran out of clefts and spilled down, leaf by leaf, to the brown earth of the island. The air was cool, moist and still. The beast lay huddled on the pale beach, and the stains spread, inch by inch. From page 153.
*This quote is from Notes on Lord of the Flies by E.L. Epstein from my copy of the book.