BOOK REVIEW: LORD OF THE FLIES
William Golding’s first novel, ‘The lord of the flies’ is an extremely well-written book about a group of young boys aged 6 to 12 and their time stranded on an island. Set during the period of a fictional war, it revolves around the theme of barbaric, evil human nature.
The reader is first introduced to Ralph and Piggy, washed ashore on an uninhabited island after their plane crashed. Blowing a beautiful conch Ralph found, all the survivors assembled in front of Ralph and Piggy-including Jack Merridew and his choir, clad in black robes. After establishing the island was uninhabited, a few rules were set by the elected chief Ralph, with Jack left in charge of hunting. The fear of a beastie sparked amongst the lot on day one. Ralph tried to lead the group in an orderly manner but was soon enough overthrown by Jack through his attractive way of life- the hunting, feasts and barbarianism. The author reveals the nature of the true beast through a conversation Simon had with the ‘lord of the flies’ in chapter 8- before which the reader believed an external threat may have existed. All the children slowly succumbed to abandoning civility and even participated in the murder of a fellow mate. Ralph and Piggy were the only ones who seemed to have some sanity left in them. The reader finally realises the beastie had been the uncivilised savages themselves. Ralph soon found himself alone against the entire ‘tribe’ who were hunting him under the chief’s orders (since he was the only outcast left to be dealt with). Just as he was escaping from the savages, he ran into a British officer and realised he had finally been saved.
The book is an allegory packed with deep symbols relating to society. It is a satire of adventure books written during the author’s time, where stranded voyagers brought civility to the native tribes of the islands. Golding even uses the same names of protagonist Ralph and Jack from ‘Coral Island’- a very popular book of the genre. Golding strongly displays how he saw the world after serving the Royal Navy during the war. Ralph symbolises democracy while Piggy symbolises scientific thought. Jack is human evil and dictatorial authority. The conch symbolises order. The shattering of the conch marked all end of order amongst the children -who no more acted so. The island symbolises the world. ‘Power lay in the brown swell of his(Jack) forearms: authority sat on his shoulder and chattered in his ear like an ape.’ The powerful do anything they can to maintain power, the weak are neglected or exploited. Whoever stands in the way is destroyed. It wouldn’t have been hard for readers then, to compare the two after the recent Jew Holocaust and Japan Bombings. Much after, readers can keep relating the book to incidents such as the Vietnamese war and Iraq being raided by America. The book is timeless-displaying crude human nature.
The book ends perfectly with Ralph saved from almost being murdered and the children finally coming to their senses after seeing an adult. The officer, realising the children had turned into savages, brushes it off as fun and play. Although the children were rescued from savageness, a similar situation awaited them back home, where aimless war waged.