William Golding – The Lord of the Flies

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“Which is better – to have rules and agree, or to hunt and kill?”

This is one of the quotes that I think can best characterize this book, the “Lord of the flies“.

I don’t usually respond well to books I ‘have to’ read, I never liked being given orders but since last time I had to read a book because the teacher said so was more than 10 years ago, I thought why not give this one a try. The professor recommended it to all his students, presenting it as an exercise of psychological study. It got me intrigued so I decided to start reading it right away.

The book presents the story of a bunch of kids. I admit that the first few pages made me think this is a children’s book of adventure, why on Earth should I continue reading? The story wasn’t bad, William Golding managed to make things interesting so I thought, since the book has less than 300 pages, I might as well finish reading.

Lord of the Flies, William Golding

The story begins with a plane crashing on a deserted island, the only survivors being a group of schoolboys. The boys are introduced to the reader in the first chapter, they are scared but at the same time, what children in their right minds don’t want a whole island all to themselves? Without any adults around, they decide right then and there to make a set of rules and to choose a leader. We meet our protagonists: Ralph – who is elected as leader, Piggy – the boy who has a good head on his shoulders, but is barely appreciated for it, Jack Merridrew – the leader of the choirboys, who will slowly turn into ‘the bad guy’.

At first, the story shows us how these boys are fighting to be rescued but at the same time, they fight amongst themselves. While you might think that this is normal – what 12 year old boys get along perfectly and never fight over the little things – their disputes slowly take a turn for the worse.

While Ralph and Piggy are presented as the responsible ones, constantly trying to keep a fire burning at all times, so that ships can see the smoke if they pass by, Jack is preoccupied with hunting down wild pigs. He doesn’t succeed at first, and I can understand that a little boy is unlikely to feel confident enough to kill an animal, but eventually his thirst for power and leadership slowly obsess him to the point where he doesn’t care about being rescued anymore, but is willing to do anything to hunt and kill. This is where the story takes an unexpected turn of events.

Ralph, Piggy and the boys on the ‘good team’ are struggling with keeping the fire alive. They are scared to say the least and the thought of monsters crawling in the woods makes them have nightmares and feel unsafe. They are afraid to go to sleep as there are no adults around to comfort them.
Team Jack, on another side of the Island, is more preoccupied with hunting. Slowly but surely, the boys on the ‘bad team’ begin to act like savages.
After a few months on the island, you see how both teams develop differently. While Ralph matures and refuses to believe that there is no more hope for them, Jack manages to create chaos among the boys and attract them to his side, one by one.

The “Lord of the Flies” keeps you intrigued and I can assure you, if you’re into these kind of novels, you won’t put the book down until you see how it ends. The characters start their fight for survival on an island by setting up some rules and, slowly, they turn into savages, losing all hope and dreams. The fear of the unknown has managed to make the boys become desperate and forget about the rules. William Golding manages to transform them from well-behaved children into barbarians.

By the end of the book, you forget the story is about a group of little boys. The dramatic turn of events catches the essence of what fear can do to humans and how having no rules to live by can turn you into a real ‘monster’.

The book is easy to read, is quite short and it takes you into a whole different world. I’m really glad I read it and didn’t put it down after the first few pages.

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