Saturday, December 22, 2012

Book Review: Lord of the Flies

Another classic to cross off the list! How I managed to reach the ripe old age of 31 before reading this book I'll never know, but I definitely wanted to check it out.

For those few who don't know, Lord of the Flies by William Golding is about a group of schoolboys trying to recreate society after being stranded on an island, only to have it break down when the darker side of human nature defies attempts to establish order. The main conflict in the book is the widening ideological gap between Ralph, the rational and moral leader who wants to establish order, and Jack, who wants a hedonistic, animalistic anarchy. Murder and mayhem ensue as the story continues and things get out of hand.

I thought this book was interesting, but kind of strange. The way the boys spoke to and interacted with one another was odd to me, and I often felt like I was trapped inside the head of a crazy person. The older boys in the book are around age 12, mature enough to approach their unfortunate situation responsibly and logically, I think. But the vast majority of the schoolboys focus their energy on playing at hunting, swimming in the pool, eating fruit and teasing the "littluns" to the point of tears. Ralph and Piggy are the only ones who see the necessity of maintaining a signal fire for potential rescue, but when they attempt to push this issue with the other boys they are overruled and outcast from the "tribe."

It was very discouraging to me that the boys descend into savagery so quickly once they are removed from society and the supervision of grownups. But this is the central theme that Golding is attempting to illustrate: the conflict between two competing impulses that exist within all human beings... the instinct to live by rules, act peacefully, and follow moral commands, versus the instinct to gratify one’s immediate desires, act violently to obtain supremacy, and enforce one’s will.

(To my absolute delight, when I began reading Assholes Finish First by Tucker Max later that day I was almost immediately presented with a reference to Lord of the Flies and was very pleased with myself for adding this classic to my "must read" list).

1 comment :

  1. I love this book - I must have at least half a dozen copies found in second hand shops. I can never resist buying it when i see it.
    MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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