Saturday, February 19, 2011
Book Review: Lord of the Flies
Summary from Amazon: William Golding's classic tale about a group of English schoolboys who are plane-wrecked on a deserted island is just as chilling and relevant today as when it was first published in 1954. At first, the stranded boys cooperate, attempting to gather food, make shelters, and maintain signal fires. Overseeing their efforts are Ralph, "the boy with fair hair," and Piggy, Ralph's chubby, wisdom-dispensing sidekick whose thick spectacles come in handy for lighting fires. Although Ralph tries to impose order and delegate responsibility, there are many in their number who would rather swim, play, or hunt the island's wild pig population. Soon Ralph's rules are being ignored or challenged outright. His fiercest antagonist is Jack, the redheaded leader of the pig hunters, who manages to lure away many of the boys to join his band of painted savages. The situation deteriorates as the trappings of civilization continue to fall away, until Ralph discovers that instead of being hunters, he and Piggy have become the hunted: "He forgot his words, his hunger and thirst, and became fear; hopeless fear on flying feet." Golding's gripping novel explores the boundary between human reason and animal instinct, all on the brutal playing field of adolescent competition.
I remember seeing this movie in a psychology class in high school and what I also remember is how excited ny teacher was by this story. He was a little crazy himself and he positively jumped around the room when we talked about this movie! This has been a book I have always meant to read and even had a copy of it for awhile.
I found this story of boys running their own society of sorts, clearly disturbing on so many levels. It started out nicely enough with Ralph and "Piggy" trying to have some semblance of order with the running of meetings and the use of the conch. However, this plan quickly disolves as Jack designates himself and his choir "the hunters" and soon, the two groups part ways quite abruptly. Though Simon, another boy, tries to look out for the younger boys, they seemed to get lost in the shuffle and at times, I wondered what had ever happened to them as it seemed they weren't mentioned any longer.
I think my favorite character was "Piggy", as he tried to bring some sort of order to the island. He is teased because of his nickname and his poor eyesight, though his glasses do aid them in building fires. He is the one who tries to keep some semblance of civilization on the island and it says so much that he did not succeed and that evil, in the form of Jack, seemed to win. Jack as a person appeals more to the animal instincts of the children and probably seems to be having more fun rather than following "the rules". The arrival of the navel officer at the end seems bring the boys back to reality and they are once again reduced to just being children.
I really enjoyed this book and I found I could not put it down, I had to keep reading to find out what happened next! (I also have to be honest and say that I did get a little squemish reading some of the more graphic scenes, especially when they kill the mother pig.)