With the recent discussions about the possibility of an all-female movie based on this book, I figured I should actually read it. Other than a couple of excerpts I somehow managed to make it through school without sampling this little bit of twisted horror.
Title: Lord of the Flies
Author: William Golding
Genre: Fiction, Survival,
ROTS Setting: Deserted island, Survival, Social Commentary
Synopsis: When a plane crashes on a remote island, a small group of schoolboys are the sole survivors. From the prophetic Simon and virtuous Ralph to the lovable Piggy and brutish Jack, each of the boys attempts to establish control as the reality – and brutal savagery – of their situation sets in. The boys’ struggle to find a way of existing in a community with no fixed boundaries invites readers to evaluate the concepts involved in social and political constructs and moral frameworks. Ideas of community, leadership, and the rule of law are called into question as the reader has to consider who has a right to power, why, and what the consequences of the acquisition of power may be.
Recommendation: Recommended for teens. Violence and murder. Reader discretion is advised.
– – Spoilers – –
The survival and social aspects of the majority of the book were fascinating. If anything, I wanted more. Their clumsy attempts a cooperation and an irrational pervasive fear had stunning comparisons to all forms of human interaction. The handful of “main characters” all had something you could relate to but also find annoying or frustrating.
My biggest disappointment was with the “Lord of the Flies” itself. It felt very out of place with everything else and I feel it didn’t add anything. I kept waiting or someone to proclaim themselves “Lord of the Flies” as some title of leadership or self identified label. To have it be a singular hallucinatory experience was more than a let down. It also makes me think 90% of public usage of the phrase is just plain ignorance.
How the ending and breaking down of their society was much of what I expected. I do want to state emphatically that I disagree with some suggestions that this would be appropriate for children as young as 8 yrs old. It’s not just violence, it’s murder. Children murdering other children. Children hunting down and attempting to murder other children. There is a glorification that I find distasteful and would not want younger readers exposed to.
My single point of issue with the book is when the group divides. Jack makes his move to become chief and not a single person supports him. No one. So he leaves and invites people to go with him, pretty much everybody does, and the group murders someone…..and yet only a handful of kids choose not to stay with Jack and his self proclamation as chief. This doesn’t feel natural. I would have expected a much larger group to stick with Ralph and then slowly migrate over to Jack. Instead it’s sudden and absolute.
I have to say that Jack is a very clear and disturbing character in all the right ways. His brand of crazy is believable and that’s what’s so unsettling. I also like that the break in the group is entirely based on how he embarrassed himself and instead of dealing with it he takes his ball and leaves. No one did anything to him to cause him to leave, yet his feels were hurt so he literally descends into savagery………Anyone else see this happening in real-life society?
In summary, it’s a twisted horror story made all the more scary due to its comparison to reality. I’m glad I finally read it, if only for the cultural references.
P.S. In regards to an all-female movie adaptation, I don’t believe that the social interactions would equate well with the change in sex as they are in the book. I do thing that some minor tweaks might do enough to keep it in line with books intentions while still allowing those interactions to feel natural. However, I don’t see the point. We don’t need a sex-swapped adaptation as it would not add anything that isn’t already present. Unless a pointless gimmick is the real goal.