Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Mass Market Paperback, 192 pages, including notes
G. P. Putnam Publishing, 1954
reread; very highly recommended

The classic tale of a group of English school boys who are left stranded on an unpopulated island, and who must confront not only the defects of their society but the defects of their own natures.
My Thoughts:

Lord of the Flies is a reread. (I'm packing up books and have a whole little stack of books I've decided to reread during our packing and moving.) In the notes section of my book William Golding is quoted: "The theme is an attempt to trace the defects of society back to the defects of human nature. The moral is that the shape of a society must depend on the ethical nature of the individual and not on any political system however apparently logical or respectable. The whole book is symbolic in nature except .... in the end..." The Lord of the Flies is just as relevant today as it was when it was first published. Alas, human nature has not changed in the intervening years. Children are viewed as innocent. Golding use of children as the symbolic characters representing human nature is brilliant. We all have the capacity for good - and evil. (I love the cover of my copy of the book, which is pictured.) Very highly recommended


The boy with the fair hair lowered himself down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way toward the lagoon. Though he had taken off his school sweater and trailed it now from one hand, his grey shirt stuck to him and his hair was plastered to his forehead. All round him the long scar smashed into the jungle was a bath of heat. He was clambering heavily among the creepers and broken trunks when a bird, a vision of red and yellow, flashed upwards with a witchlike cry; and this cry was echoed by another. opening

"Aren't there any grownups at all?"

"I don't think so." pg. 6

He was old enough, twelve years and a few months, to have lost the prominent tummy of childhood and not yet old enough for adolescence to have made him awkward. You could see now that he might make a boxer, as far as width and heaviness of shoulders went, but there was a mildness about his mouth and eyes that proclaimed no devil. pg. 8

His ordinary voice sounded like a whisper after the harsh note of the conch. He laid the conch against his lips, took a deep breath and blew once more. The note boomed again: and then at his firmer pressure, the note, fluking up an octave, became a strident blare more penetrating than before. Piggy was shouting something, his face pleased, his glasses flashing. pg. 14

This toy of voting was almost as pleasing as the conch. Jack started to protest but the clamor changed from the general wish for a chief to an election by acclaim of Ralph himself. None of the boys could have found good reason for this; what intelligence had been shown was traceable to Piggy while the most obvious leader was Jack. But there was a stillness about Ralph as he sat that marked him out: there was his size, and attractive appearance; and most obscurely, yet most powerfully, there was the conch. The being that had blown that, had sat waiting for them on the platform with the delicate thing balanced on his knees, was set apart. pg. 19

They knew very well why he hadn't: because of the enormity of the knife descending and cutting into living flesh; because of the blood. pg. 27

"We're on an island. We've been on the mountain top and seen water all around. We saw no houses, no smoke, no footprints, no boats, no people. We're on an uninhabited island with no other people on it." pg. 28


Jane said...

I read this in high school lit class.
If I remember right, it was the same cover! I'm just sure it was. I remember the cover, but
I don't think I remember much of the book. I remember something about a conch shell & the boys fighting.
I wish I could remember every book I've read.
Maybe I'll re-read this one day.

Lori L said...

This one is worth the reread, Jane. It may even be better reading it as an adult - you'll have to tell me what you think if you reread it.