Lord of the Flies a novel written by William Golding in 1954, navigates the human desire for power and illustrates the fall from civilization to savagery. The book begins on a remote island where the reader learns a group of British schoolboys ranging from ages 6 to about 13, have survived a plane crash and are now without any adults. In the chaos two leaders step forward, Ralph and Jack, their battle for power stays central throughout the entire book. The large group of boys (in which the number is never specified) is split between “biguns”, the older boys, and “littluns”, the very young boys who don't grasp the gravity of the situation. The reader is also introduced to Piggy who is wise beyond his years, but sadly ends up being everyone's emotional punching bag and is often the butt of the joke. Simon, always helpful and a cohesive figure in the group, Roger a boy who is immediately detected as psychopathic, and twins Sam and Eric, round out the group of characters that Golding focuses on. Fear, power struggles, and no supervision force the group of boys to learn of the true animalistic fervor that lies in humanity.
In my opinion the Lord of the Flies greatest attribute, and the true reason that it is a classic is because the book fantastically describes each scene and paints a beautiful picture for the reader. These beautifully crafted descriptions are even more effective in that they pack a poetic punch in contrast to the way that the boys talk to one another. Which is in a naturally youthful tone, full of grammatical error and slang. This slang not only frames the eloquent descriptions but it acts as a form of characterization for the boys and distinguishes their age and mannerisms without the narrator having to comment on them. Personally, the only flamboyant description I would have liked to see worded differently was that of the Island in the very beginning. As a reader I like to get a very general description of the surrounding, to better map out the image in my head and have details added on slowly throughout the book. Because of the way that the book is set up you are introduced immediately to a set of characters and having no background that they crashed except for through their dialogue, and is hard to balance with the intense description of the island. However, the deep descriptions of the boys in the beginning of the book is great. It allowed for me to form concrete images of each character that I could stick to for the entire book.
A large qualm I had with this book is that although the entire purpose was to express that there lies a deep savageness in man, and that we are animals that have just become more civilized, I don't necessarily agree with the idea portrayed that the boys would become truly savage. There comes a point in the novel when a group of the boys all morph into a savage form this allows them to disregard the previous rules of power and government on the island. I don't think that this would be the case if the situation occurred in reality. It seems like the author is not giving young children enough credit. kids are smart! Although the youngest in this book is six years old I think the kids retain a lot of information from their surroundings and truly know what is right and what's wrong. That it's not as easy as it is portrayed in the book to completely tear down the knowledge of humanity and structure that these children have developed an been raised with. And Golding writes it in a way that the kids are all playing savage but then morph into real savages, but that is truly giving the children no dimension, and paints them as far too naive. I do think that story rightfully includes moorages, slips from sanity, and a struggle for power. The opposing personalities of Ralph and Jack are bound to create tensions, but not create a complete disregard for morals amongst all the others. The boys blindly follow either Ralph or Jack, and in this Golding gives the overall following no credit. In my opinion, there would have been more questioning of morality and an understanding of what a fit leader looks like amongst the crowd. Humans want unity as we are social creatures so this tyranny that takes place is simply implausible especially in this isolated environment.
Personally, I felt that the book lacked character development or change. The way that we are getting information about our characters as a reader is through quick amounts of dialogue or through small intercepts of omniscient narration. There wasn't a character that had a thought or an idea that came to fruition or had any sort of wrap up. Everyone lies in their own idea that they are right and there's no real consensus on anything, except for in the very beginning when Ralph is voted to be the leader. There weren’t any instances in which the characters learn and grow positively, or in which ideas or conflicts that they have reach a resolving completion. I enjoy resolution in a book, so this was hard for me to cope with. However, the repetition and ideas never shifting under the heat of the conflict gave birth to a high paced, fearful tone that kept me in the moment as a reader. This allowed me to feel the character’s dire need for escape and survival because of the urgency and the ever continuing cycle in which the ideas were repeated. This urgency mixed with the deeply explained surroundings evoked a strong amount of empathy within me for the characters’ emotions. I found myself completely swept up in the story towards the end. As I read my body was tense and my heart was beating quickly, it was like I was right there with the characters until I flipped the final page of the book.
I would strongly recommend this book, although I identified some areas of flaw, they were based mainly on small preferences I personally have for books. If you don't enjoy hefty description in a book this may not be for you, but if you are looking for a quick read that deals with heavy themes then this is a perfect choice. The deeply painted descriptions and the urgent tone mix to create a truly emotion evoking piece, dealing gracefully with the exploration of the underlying savageness that is buried deeply under civilized state of humanity. This book truly earned its title as one of the great classics. I would give Lord of the Flies 4 out of 5 stars!
Golding, William, and Lois Lowry. Lord of the Flies. New York: Berkley Group, 1954. Print