Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Book Review: Lord of the Flies by William Golding
After a plane crash strands a dozen or so boys on a tropical island, they at first have fun in this new environment. They form a community and make plans for building shelters and keeping a fire burning to signal rescuers. However, the laziness of many of the boys leads to these plans falling apart. A rivalry between the leader of the boys and another boy who obsesses over hunting continually grows more tense. As time passes and the boys in general become more and more like savages, the few boys who retain bits of civilization try to survive and hold onto hope.
As anyone who knows a bit about this book might can guess, this isn’t a happy story. The tone is grim and doesn’t make for pleasant reading. However, the nightmarish feel also makes it compelling since you will want to see how it ends. The prose is vividly written, but sometimes feels detached, while the story flows at an erratic pace early on before smoothing out as the story goes along.
The savagery that takes ahold of the boys is disturbing, and occasionally seems implausible, but for the most part one can see how something like this could happen to those who let go of their values or have no solid values to stand on. As such, it can be read as a reminder of the importance of Christian principles that stay the same in every situation. Unfortunately, the author’s lack of Christian faith and the relentless darkness of the story muddy things up.
The main content issues potential readers should be aware of are violence and darkness. Boys are brutally murdered by other boys, and once this is described in flashes of gruesome detail. Hunting is described somewhat graphically. The cruelty of some of the boys and their eventual descent into murderous savagery might be too much for some readers. There is a bit of mild swearing. Most problematic of all, the story seems hesitant to offer any hope, and thus is probably not worth the time of anyone except those wanting to read it for literary research.
(c) 2012 Jonathan Garner