Title: The Lord of the Flies
Author: William Golding
Challenges: Back to the Classics (Satire); The Classics Club; Manly Reading List
This is one book that I did not look forward to ever reading; I do not recall what possessed me to add it to my reading challenges. I had an idea what the plot was and declared that I had no interest in it. Then it was time for me to read it, and I am so grateful I did.
A group of British school boys survive a plane crash on a desolate island, as they are being transported somewhere safer than war-torn England. They are between the ages of 6 and 12. As you would imagine, these boys must come together and exist within this wild environment, without adult supervision or instruction.
There are four major characters: The one who is elected to become the main leader is attractive and exhibits moral law and order - ideas that humans are drawn to. Another boy agrees to be leader of the hunters, as he exhibits action and power, physical traits that also attract humans. There is another boy who is intelligent and wise, and has all the answers, but he is physically unpleasant and socially an outcast. And finally, there is one other boy who is naturally gentle, peaceful, and compassionate, and connected to the natural environment of the island. No one truly understands him, and he is somewhat of a loner.
|Moral Law and Order vs. Evil Power|
Other characters include a set of twins who are inseparable and easily exploited. They are not unique individuals. Another boy, part of the group of hunters, is vicious and violent. And there is a group of younger boys, age six, who are dependent and need to be looked after and taken care of. They are completely helpless on their own.
There is major conflict between the leaders. Moral Law and Order has one objective - to keep a fire smoldering in order to be rescued; but Power has its objective - to kill and eat and subdue the island (and everyone on it). It is obvious to the reader that without law and order there is chaos, destruction, and eventually unnecessary death. And this is what we are faced with: evil Power overrides Law and Order. Now I understand why Oliver DeMille called Lord of the Flies a broken story - when evil is portrayed as bad, but evil still wins.
Soon an imaginary Fear is introduced into the story that begins with the younger boys. Internally, they suppose there is a beast living on the island. The older boys believe it, too, especially after they discover a dead paratrooper hanging from some trees high in the mountains. Only the Peaceful character encounters the truth and wants to tell the rest that the beast is not real; but he never gets to tell them. However, that Fear continues to be used throughout the story to encourage the other boys to join evil Power, to hunt and kill.
|Source: Peaceful face-to-face with the Lord of the Flies|
Later, after a hunt, the leader of the hunters raises the severed head of the sow on a stick, and it becomes the Lord of the Flies. It is a shrine to the imagined beast on the island. Since a beast did not really exist on the island, the Lord of the Flies represents the natural beast within, which is evil and wicked.
Each major character represents a true picture of human nature. Man desires moral law and order, particularly because he knows man's heart is broken and bent on wickedness. Naturally, man is corrupt and corruptible. Law and order protects man from his wickedness or the wickedness of others; for if man were naturally good and right, he would not need law or order.
Man is also attracted to power, and some would say violence. It does not mean we all are. The character connected to peace in The Lord of the Flies was naturally good and harmless. He was not attracted to the violence and rage. He was not connected to an aggressive nature. But the power exhibited by the leader of the hunters was magnetic to the others and brought about their own wickedness.
By the end of the story, Power destroyed Peacefulness, Wisdom, and was seeking out Law and Order, to end it once and for all. Just then, a military officer appeared on the island to rescue the boys (the military saw the smoke from the fire, which was only set in wickedness to "smoke out" the main leader from hiding). The irony is that the adult rescues the boys from their violent games; while the adults are at war, too, with each other. Who will rescue the adults from their violent war games?
The reason why I liked this story so much is because it is loaded with many truths. It is also very frightening when I consider how true to life it is. And sadly, often times evil Powers do win over goodness, mercy, truth, righteousness, and law and order. Civilization is being destroyed right before our eyes, as man is obeying his own beast.
You see, the truth of The Lord of the Flies teaches us that there is never really any end to the struggle between moral law and order and violence and evil power, even within ourselves. The question however is: who will we permit to win?