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Lord of the Flies Paperback – August 1, 1997
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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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. That was a big influence on me as a teenager, I still read it every couple of years."
—Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games
"As exciting, relevant, and thought-provoking now as it was when Golding published it in 1954."
"The most influential novel...since Salinger's Catcher in the Rye."
"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
"Sparely and elegantly written...Lord of the Flies is a grim anti-pastoral in which adults are disguised as children who replicate the worst of their elders' heritage of ignorance, violence, and warfare."
—Joyce Carol Oates, New York Review of Books
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But everyone knows things are bad here. The question is: why is it this way?
William Golding's famous "Lord of the Flies" I believe seeks to answer that question. The story begins curious enough with a sizeable number of English boys ranging from ages 6-12 are trapped on a coral island. There are no adults, and the island is relatively livable as there is fruit a plenty and pigs for meat. Innocently enough, the boys begin their captivity by electing the charismatic and likeable Ralph to lead their democratic society. There are rules: the boys need shelter, they need food, the need water--but perhaps most importantly the boys need to maintain a smoke signal if they are to have any hope of escape. Things are all well and good.
But how this book begins is not how it ends, as talk of a mysterious beast propels the boys into the shackles of fear. Things start to fall apart. Order crumbles. Brutal pig hunts find success. Division ensues. And before you know it, the good English schoolboys that began on the island are as forgotten as the memories of home. One perceptive youth on the island suggests: "Maybe it's (the beast) only us."
Golding's classic surely garners another reading from myself as its sociological and political implications are abundant. But perhaps more revealing to me is Golding's profound commentary on humanity--or what is within humanity at its deepest core. His conclusions are not flattering. Though it may be cloaked by laws and restrained by culture, the crux of "Lord of the Flies" is emphatic: The beast is inside each of us. The evil is us. And when it is exposed it is not pretty.
Golding's understanding of humanity is grisly and disturbing, but his case is made and his point is taken. "What is wrong with the world" you ask? Perhaps Golding would agree with G.K. Chesterton's famous reply: "I am."
I thought that this was an excellent book that gives readers an insight on human behavior but does so through a very interesting and entertaining story. I did not feel that this was a book that I had to get through in order to learn the moral of the story; the theme seemed to be always clearly at work among the characters and their actions. However, it was very cool to observe how the book began with all these innocent children trying to figure out what they can do to survive on the island, and then ended with acts of savagery and ruthlessness committed by these same children. The author perfectly summarizes this change in one of the last lines of the book: “Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy” (Golding 202). This, in my opinion, was the most interesting aspect of the novel. The setting, conflict, and characters all had a role in spurring this rapid change in mindset among the kids. It was almost as if the things that happened were bound to happen. No matter who it was on the island, human nature will inevitably play a role in determining their actions, thoughts, and ideas.
William Golding does an unbelievable job in inciting this type of thinking and reasoning through the text. Lord of the Flies makes readers think differently in regards to the natural behavior or response of humans in certain circumstances. An important idea to understand in this book is that the eventual behavior by the children was unexpected yet should have been expected. Most readers would not likely finish reading the first couple of chapters and think that these kids were going to do what they did. However, in a situation like the one that they were in, how could someone think that they would continue to act in a civilized, appropriate manner? This type of thinking that the author invokes is the reason why I think every human being should have the chance to read Lord of the Flies.