Book Review “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding
I’m not going to lie to you, so I’ll tell you right off the bat: I hated the guts of this book in college. I hadn’t read a more tedious and boring novel in my life (save for Moby Dick). So, what could make me reread it a couple of years later? – the answer is sheer curiosity and the desire to see whether it was as boring as I perceived it or not. Surprisingly enough, I didn’t find it boring this time. In fact, it reached quite a high position in my favorite books. What’s Lord of the Flies about? Well, one thing’s certain: it doesn’t have anything to do with the biblical Beelzebub.
The book follows the lives of a group of boys on a deserted island. It doesn’t take long until a leader shows up: it’s Ralph, one of the boys. He and Piggy, another boy, find a conch and Ralph uses that conch to summon up the boys. This gives him some sort of authority over the other kids.
The choir boys are allowed by Ralph to form their own group of hunters. However, Jack, the “leader” of the choir boys starts a battle for power with Ralph, and so does Simon. The three of them become the leaders of all the other kids.
When a wild pig is observed on the premises of their society, let’s put it like this, Jack takes his hunters and starts pursuing the said pig. Unfortunately, the hunters had been tasked with caring for the signal fire. A ship is seen traveling on the waves in the proximity of the island, but there is no smoke to signal it because there’s no fire anymore.
Ralph confronts Jack immediately and the latter starts to grow more rebellious and plans on overthrowing Ralph’s leadership. In a short while, Jack gives up on trying to turn the others against Ralph and decides to form his own tribe. Simon and some other kids join them. One day, Jack and some of his friends create a sacrifice for the beast that was said to inhabit the island: they put a pig’s head on a stick.
Simon, being an epileptic, starts having imagined dialogues with the pig’s head, which they call “The Lord of the Flies”. In one of these conversations, the head tells Simon that there is no physical beast inhabiting the island – the beast is in their heads.
The relation between Ralph and Jack erodes, even more, when the latter storms Ralph’s camp and steals Piggy’s glasses. Piggy is killed by a boulder rolled over him by Roger, an insane boy that had a taste for sadism. The boulder breaks the conch, as well.
Ralph vanishes and is told by two boys in Jack’s camp that Jack will hunt him down like a pig and chop his head off. The novel ends with Ralph tripping and falling, with Jack’s boys on his trail, right in front of an officer.
Is It Worth Reading?
Lord of the Flies is a visceral novel that will raise more questions than it will answer, but it’s fascinating from start to finish. It hints at the fact that people are genetically predisposed to social order and that they will always be divided into good and bad.
To tell you the truth, I finished it in one sitting, because I was too intrigued to put it down. Hopefully, so will you. I also hope that, if you’re in college, you won’t scoff when you see Lord of the Flies on your compulsory reading list.