Thursday, 28 March 2013

Book Review: Lord of The Flies

Book: Lord of The Flies

Author: William Golding

Pages: 225

Publisher: Faber and Faber

ISBN: 9780571245895 


The children's novel "Lord of The Flies" by the Nobel laureate William Golding, was first published in 1954. However, "Lord of The Flies" is not an average read. To begin with, it has a plane crash thus leaving a bunch of school boys stranded on an deserted island. The entire book is set temporally during an unspecified nuclear war period. 

The book then introduces us to the unlikely protagonists Ralph and his sidekick Piggy, Simon and a bunch of other school boys. Ralph is elected as the leader of the pack due to his leadership qualities and popularity with the rest of the boys. He then befriends a choir boy Jack, who is the antagonist of the story. As the story progresses further, both come to eventually detest each other's presence as days pass and Jack becomes hungry for power. At first, they revel in the freedom but soon, the boys' fragile sense of order begins to collapse. They are suddenly faced with a more pressing reality--survival--and the appearance of a terrifying beast.

In their quest for survival, the book portrays their descent into savagery; left to themselves in a deserted island which is far from modern civilization and the well-educated children regress into a primitive level. At an allegorical level, the central theme is the conflicting human impulses towards civilization--living by the rules, peacefully and in harmony--and towards the will to power. Simultaneously, the book addresses themes such as the conflict between group thinking and individuality, civilization and savagery, rational and emotional reactions and between morality and immorality. How these themes influence different people forms a major subtext of the book.

At this juncture, it becomes important to state that Lord of The Flies is not a regular book that chronicles becoming independent. On the contrary, it holds a deeper meaning and has a more subtler meaning attached with it. The book is replete with symbolism and keeping symbols aside, the boys represent the darker shades of humanity as a whole. The provocative storyline forces readers to question what it really means to be immoral and depicts the true meaning of evil. 

The writer William Golding succeeds in shattering our beliefs about innocence and childhood. The island becomes a startling example of a place where innocence is lost and readers simply cannot take it further. In other words, the book reports and examines the worst, darkest side of human nature in a pessimistic tone. On the face of it, the book might not come across as a dark novel. There is surely more to it than what meets the eye. As the story progresses further, it is revealed the actions of the boys become worse. In an unflinching manner, the book takes us on a journey to question and make us wonder about the permeable boundaries and where the lines between good and bad cease to exist.

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