A Banned Book – Lord of the Flies by William Golding

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.

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19 Comments

Filed under BannedBooksWeek, Classic, Horror, RIP VI Challenge, Young Adult

19 responses to “A Banned Book – Lord of the Flies by William Golding

  1. I read this in high school too, but I’ve never reread it. I have seen the movie a few times though. The ending is so powerful…but it’s hard to watch.

  2. I’ve had an epiphany as of late. I think I actually read more of these classics in high school than I remember. Recently I listened to Of Mice and Men, and had a flashback that yes indeed I read it in school then blocked it out. Because it was horrifying in so many ways. I think this book is in the same boat. I just need to reread to activate the memories.

    • Yes! I’m amazed when I think back on all the “classics” I read in school and what I remember or don’t remember about them. After rereading Lord of the Flies I want to reread several others including Of Mice and Men.

  3. Ti

    I bought myself a copy last year but have yet to reread it as an adult. I loved it in high school and college. Well, I guess I was an adult in college but you know what I mean!

    • Rereading something like Lord of the Flies is really interesting to me, what I get from it, the different understanding. Now I want to reread other books I read in school.

  4. I know a lot of people really enjoy this book, but I am not one of them…

  5. I read this in high school, too, and didn’t like it much. Have thought for years that it’s one of those books that would really benefit from an adult perspective… think you’ve just convinced me to finally reread.

    • I have a really different understanding of Lord of the Flies after rereading it. If you do reread it I’d like to know what you think.

  6. I too read this in high school and enjoyed it then. I wonder how much I would enjoy it now? I do recall thinking that the ending was somewhat of a cop-out, though.

    • The ending does seem rather abrupt but the rescue ship come from a completely altered world. I would like to have read what Golding would have imagined that world to be.

  7. This is one that I think perhaps I should read again. I read it when I was way too young to fully appreciate it. And now I have the movie version more entrenched in my mind than the book. Thanks for reminding me of this one!

  8. celawerd

    I have loved this book ever since I read it in high school. I think I need to go back and read it again. I find this story very insightful on the psychology behind adolescent boys.

  9. Best read as an adult, you say? Then I seriously wish I had waited to read it. I read it in high school, and I just can’t face reading it again, even with the prospect of loving it better this time. It was too horrific, and I am too squeamish, and conch shells are already sort of ruined for me.

  10. LapisLee

    “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding was challenged at the Duval County, Florida public school libraries (1992) because of profanity, lurid passages about sex and statements defamatory to minorities, God, women and the disabled. It was challenged, but retained on the ninth-grade accelerated English reading list in Bloomfield, New York (2000). Lord of the Flies was a thinly-veiled indictment against the Christian Church. It wanted to show that religion was not really a civilizing factor. As proof, the religious group of boys are the ones who turn their little paradise into hell by introducing superstition, and then violence based on supposed “rightness”. It is the religious boys, not the public school boys, who create the conditions for havoc and cruelty.

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