Book Review: Lord of The Flies

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In my secondary school we as a class used to finish a novel each year in our Literature period. In grade seven, LoTF was introduced to, and most of us including me finished it for the sake of passing our exams. Last year I stumbled upon a post on my Tumblr feed which sparked my interest in the book. And then I started to read more about the heavy symbolism present in it.

Sir William Golding set out to write a more realistic novel, by the way, using the same names for his main characters as Ballantyne did (although Golding’s characters are slightly younger). So, all the posts about Lord of the Flies showing the “human condition” insofar as it pertains to young middle-class British boys who grew up in a boarding house in the middle of the Cold War are correct. But I get the feeling that most people don’t realize that was the point of the novel.

Lord of the Flies was meant as a huge “fuck you” to the ingrained belief that English people are the most noble and wise of all people and thus incapable of descending into savagery. I doubt it was ever meant to be a sweeping generalized metaphor for the universal savage nature of humanity, and shame on the teachers who force that interpretation on their students.‘ [x]

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Anyway, eventually I bought a copy of LoTF last winter. My edition includes an introduction by Stephen King and I was reading it during my papers. It frankly, chilled me to the bone. The perverseness of human nature is on complete display in the introduction and it sets up a somber mood for the story following it.

Since I was picking up this novel again after a period of 8-9 years, the details were a bit hazy. Like I had forgotten how Piggy dies, and that a ‘littleun’ gets missing in the very start. Back in grade 7 I hadn’t quite understood how Simon met his death, I simply assumed he slipped from the mountain while it was raining. But all of that started coming back to me as I flipped through the pages and each time I could only manage to mouth ‘holy shit,’ because each act of violence seemed so utterly surreal to me.

Can I just say that Golding’s writing style is extremely impressionable? The way he describes littleuns vulnerability and dependence on the older boys hurt my heart. Roger and Maurice’s initial messing around with them foreshadows the harm littlun’s will eventually come under Jack’s rule because these older boys in the absence of ‘parents and school and policemen and the law’ understand their power and are lured into exercising it through violence, which was literally one of the main things they were surrounded with before landing on the island.

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The last 70 or so pages of LoTF were intense and gripping. I was remembering the deaths before actually coming across them. My eyes opened wide when i realized that Piggy’s head had shattered just like the conch. It felt like a final blow to the reminder of a civilization which the boys had left behind. And more horrifying than this was how the boys were getting used to the deaths, the cold-blooded murders, taking them as part of life, as a part of establishing the order which they wanted.

Favourite quote: “Maybe,” he said hesitantly, “maybe there is a beast.” […] “What I mean is, maybe it’s only us.”

Book Rating: 4/5 stars.

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