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Lord of the Flies Mass Market Paperback – Antique Books, December 16, 2003
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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. --Jennifer Hubert
"Lord of the Flies is one of my favorite books. I still read it every couple of years."
—Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games trilogy
"I finished the last half of Lord of the Flies in a single afternoon, my eyes wide, my heart pounding, not thinking, just inhaling....My rule of thumb as a writer and reader—largely formed by Lord of the Flies—is feel it first, think about it later."
"This brilliant work is a frightening parody on man's return [in a few weeks] to that state of darkness from which it took him thousands of years to emerge. Fully to succeed, a fantasy must approach very close to reality. Lord of the Flies does. It must also be superbly written. It is."
—The New York Times Book Review
Top Customer Reviews
Let's play "What if." What if a plane carrying a full load of school boys crashes on a deserted island with no adult survivors? What would happen to those boys? What would you expect to happen?
William Golding works with this premise: an idyllic setting, innocent schoolboys. One boy, an older boy just short of teenage years, a boy with fair hair, assumes leadership to stir the others into some semblance of organization and survival mode, much like adults would do if adults were present. He also saw a need to defuse the web of fear of the younger ones. Where are we? How long will we need to wait before someone comes for us? All questions with no answers at this time.
Ah, yes, Golding tells us, everything goes well for a while. But remember the "scar" made by the crashing plane? Something ugly is on this island (but it's not the scar). It's in the bushes, in the dark, in the depths, in the depths of hearts, and it grows like the malignancy it is.
A blatant revelation of what is about to come occurs when Roger silently and stealthily watches a young'un, unbeknownst to the little child. All the young'un is doing is running a stick through the sand, disturbing a crab in a tiny pool of water. Even he imposes control and fear on a helpless creature as Roger boldly picks up a couple of rocks and tosses them the youngster's way. He deliberately misses but comes closer with each throw. Next time he will probably hit the young boy, but not yet. This taboo--deliberately and unnecessarily causing pain to one smaller than you--has not been broken--yet.
Although the dance of the spears, the primeval chants, the attack and killing of the pig, then feasting on its flesh, their kill, are shocking acts of savagery, this event is foreshadowed by the seemingly innocent lob of the stones. From a casual incident, but one with eventual intentionality, the ritualistic slaughter is not so far-fetched or surprising. Golding prepares his readers. This is how the chaos of society starts. It begins with one simple disconnect from the rules. It begins in the minds and hearts. Will I do what society expects? Will I follow the rules to keep things running and working? Do I break a rule or two for my own enhancement. Will I feel a power surge if my rock hits that young `un?
Ralph would probably speak of the terror of knowing that rules WILL be broken. He would speak of the utter horror that any rule can be and will be broken and he won't live to tell about it. Just ask Piggy.
This novel is the only one I taught over and over during the twelve years I worked with high school seniors. My other choices I would switch around those years, drop some, add some. This one I kept. It is that important. I think of "Lord of the Flies" as a necessary manual for societal behavior and an effort to keep the chaos of evil at bay.
Is it even necessary to ask how many times that rock has been thrown since this novel was published in the 1950's? Or how much chaos has imploded so many lives?
Like the way of manuals, some remain in circulation and are deeply read; others fall by the wayside out of disinterest. Some are thrown in the trash. "Lord of the Flies"--what is its current status? And society--how is it doing? Reader, are you a little bit fearful?
William Golding would win the Nobel Prize for Literature primarily due to this work, which was originally published in 1954. So often Introductions detract from the main work. Not so in this case. Stephen King has written one of the most memorable ones. It is brief, and describes his childhood reading in Maine. He had read many of the standard “uplifting” books for the young, like the “Hardy Boys.” Eventually he realized that real kids don’t act the way they are depicted in these uplifting tales. He wanted to read a realistic account of what kids do. When the library Bookmobile came to town, he asked the librarian. She pulled this book out of the adult section, with the admonition that he should never tell the source; he had simply found it on his own.
British school boys – and it is only boys – crash in an airplane on a deserted island. The adults are killed, only the school boys remain. They commence to organize themselves. They use a simple conch as a symbol of authority. They hold an election as to who should be a leader. They determine they really are on an island, and realize they must generate smoke in order to attract the attention of any ship that may be passing, in order to be rescued. That’s the rational action part.
Golding was a school teacher when he wrote this novel, so he knew all too well the cliques that kids will form, the bullying of the weaker and the outliers, and yes, the just plain nastiness of kids, some of whom would one day point a presumptive finger at their elders. The “good” kid, the one the reader would like to identify with, is Ralph. But right from the beginning, Golding shows his “feet of clay.” It is a painful re-read at times. Who does not remember the “not cool” overweight kid, who might be asthmatic, with thick glasses? Who would be this kid’s friend? In Golding’s novel, this kid reveals to Ralph that his name in school was “piggy,” and begs him not to tell the others. Ralph does, in a senseless act of cruelty.
And it is downhill from there. Two main factions develop. Fears of the unknown haunt the dreams and the waking periods of the youths. A faction of the school boys evolve to be the hunters, in search of the meat of pigs. Satiating natural hunger degenerates in savagery and blood lust… and the killing of their own kind. It is in our genes is what Golding was saying, as I also saw confirmed in the ‘60’s.
Golding’s work is still apparently a school assignment, based on the number of reviews (including the silly 1-stars). It remains a very well-written “action tale” with a strong moral message about our essential genes that quietly rebuke those “new age” aspirations. I found it better, and definitely more understandable the second time around. 5-stars.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
"Lord of the Flies" is a novel directed towards young adults that tells the fictional story of a group of boys...Read more