“Maybe there is a beast… maybe it’s only us.”
― William Golding, Lord of the Flies
This is an adventure-survival novel following the story of a group of boys of mixed ages amidst a nuclear war, ranging from 6-12, stranded on an island, far beyond the reaches of civilization, after their plane evacuating them from war-torn England crashes.
We follow Ralph, Piggy, Jack, Simon, Roger, Robert, Harold, Henry, Sam and Eric among others. The book talks about the struggles every boy has to overcome while living in the island without any adult supervision or laid out rules. At first, Knowing that they would live without any adults made them feel that they are in heaven but as the days passed they soon realized that life is not just about looking for food, making a shelter or swimming in the beach- but about survival. The group was divided. Chaos ensued as everyone has their own ideas on how to live in the island despite the efforts of a few to create some kind of order on the island. Arguments begin and sides are taken. They struggle a war against “a beast” and end out turning against each other. Ralph, who was chosen as the Chief of the group because of his looks and leadership skills, believes that there should be rules and there are things that should be prioritized like keeping up a smoke signal for ships. He believes in democratic way of leading, where everyone is expected to cooperate, gatherings are me decide certain things and everyone is given time to speak. However, Jack, who was always resentful after not being chosen as the Chief, did not agree with these rules and he and his followers busy themselves with play and hunting. Their behavior eventually became more savage and takes on a murderous turn.
The book is not just the usual adventure story. There’s a beast, a talking severed pig’s head, loss of innocence, violence and death. The book is symbolic of a lot of things. The book is an allegory and commentary on morality and society. It talks about the difference of living in an orderly world compared to living a world in chaos, it talks about using reason over emotions in your judgment and living in order and law versus living in savagery. The book primarily talks about the necessity of having rules and consequences of having none.
The most important symbolism presented in the novel is that of the “beast” or “the lord of the flies”. That beast is something that rest in all of us. A fact of human nature. Evil is innate in us and what restrains us from being barbaric is civilization, the organized society that we are living now.
As for the writing, I like how the story immediately took off, right into action but I had issues comprehending the first few pages because I had to adjust to the author’s way of writing and his use of highfalutin words (which is evident throughout the book). There were no explanations at the beginning which is also confusing. There are a lot of characters which made it difficult for me to follow the events that are happening. There are also some section that are dragging. The book also could have been a little bit longer. The ending is so abrupt. Some interesting characters were not given depth and only remain in the background.
What I like about the writing is how he made the book multi-layered. I learned that the author was greatly influenced by the World War, which happened during his childhood, while writing this book. He uses extreme imagery on every aspect of the novel, from each character to the scenery and actions making the book intense and complex. The last few pages are very compelling. William Golding works with your mind. What I thought would be a simple story turned out to be so much more. There are a lot of depths and deaths. Despite being published in 1954, the book’s message is timeless. The book, overall, is disturbing yet fascinating. The book can be used as a reflective mirror to examine ourselves now. The author presented a story that can be seen from a political, religious, moral and social perspective. It is thought-provoking and viewpoint-changing.
I was weighing at first whether I’ll give the book a 3-star or a 4-star rating. I want to give it a 3-star primarily because despite the book so thought-provoking and very deep I had a hard time finishing the book. Let’s just say I am not really a fan of the author’s way of writing but then again I realized, after a couple of days after I finished reading it, that the book’s message is something that is more important and it deserve to get a higher rating from me.
4-stars out of 5.