Written by Lauryn Smith
I finally read one of the most popular high school English class staples, namely "Lord of the Flies," William Golding’s unsettling, fictionalized account of young boys stranded on an island and struggling to establish a functioning society. And, my—what a story.
The book lives up to its reputation as a macabre tale. After a plane crashes on an uninhabited island, a large group of British “little ‘uns” and preteens sets up camp with desperate hopes of being rescued. Ralph, the initially elected leader of the group, and his level-headed, logical, physically awkward pal, Piggy, desire to live rationally and peacefully until their presumed rescue. However, Jack, the antagonizing, self-imposed leader, and his loyal followers unabashedly live as savages with little mind to rescue. Naturally, conflict ensues.
Written in 1954, "Lord of the Flies" serves as a warning of humankind’s suppressed instincts. Golding purports that human nature and personal welfare will ultimately trump the common good. He illustrates that when left to the elements, away from civilization, with no authority to rely on for guidance, all of which inevitably lends for self-governance, individuals are likely to turn against one another for personal gain, power and survival.
Golding’s first novel sure is a doozy. He writes in easily accessible language and succinct paragraphs, making the story appear simple, maybe even a beach read. On closer examination, though, it is a masterfully crafted allegory. Prepare for some self-reflection after reading this one.
Perhaps the only off-putting thing about Golding’s writing style is that it appears geared toward young minds. Granted, this effect might be intentional, a way of conveying that the intricate threads of human nature are universal, even across age groups. Ultimately, Golding's appeals to varying levels of cognition are orchestrated well.
It is no wonder that "Lord of the Flies" is classic high school reading material. The book presents multiple facets for in-depth discussion and analysis, plus it is a skillfully scripted and stylized piece of literature.
The diverse levels of accessibility in "Lord of the Flies" allows it to be appreciated by members of a wide audience, as essentially any reader can find something of interest in this book. The story has joy, sorrow, surprise, conflict, many forms of interpersonal interaction, likable characters, unlikeable characters—the list goes on. This book will remain on my shelf for another read in the near future.
Title: Lord of the Flies
Author: William Golding
Original publisher: Faber and Faber
Original publication date: September 17, 1954
Page count: 208
List price: $9.99
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