Sunday, June 19, 2011
Review of Lord of the Flies
Author: William Golding
Published in 1954
Page count: 225 pages
Personal rating: 3 stars
A plane crashes on a desert island and the only survivors, a group of schoolboys, assemble on the beach and wait to be rescued. By day they inhabit a land of bright fantastic birds and dark blue seas, but at night their dreams are haunted by the image of a terrifying beast. As the boys' delicate sense of order fades, so their childish dreams are transformed into something more primitive, and their behaviour starts to take on a murderous, savage significance. (www.goodreads.com)
My two cents
Lord of the Flies is such an icon among english fiction, that I partly wondered why I waited so long to finally read it and partly had an inclination to put it on a pedestal unread as not to disturb its daunting content. Afraid I might not be as amazed as everyone else seems to be by this novel, I waited to read it until my husband literally put it in my hands and forced me to open the first page. Forced is a strong word though, it just means that I let him choose my next read from time to time and this time he chose this one. Not that he has read it, but maybe it rung something inside his head, some distant memory of being in school and hearing of this one of a lifetime read. Of course I couldn't not ask him why he had chose it, the explanation being terrific as well as fantastically innocent. He loved the Lord of the Rings trilogy and since this also feature a Lord in the title he thought I might like it.
As for my opinion, you might have derived from my 3 star rating that I was quite untouched by it. 4 or 5 stars mean that I'm positively moved, and less that 3 stars consequently mean that I am touched but negatively. 3 stars are most easily explained as those books that I read and vaguely remember as being not too bad.
Having read other reviews of this novel, it seems to invoke strong reactions. Either they think it sublime and seek so much meaning behind the words, or they think it rubbish of someone who has no faith in humanity. I wonder why William Golding just couldn't write a Goonies story but with a savage outcome, without readers putting so much symbolism behind the words he chose. Kids are cruel, no less, it's the adult responsibility that largely erases that streak of cruelty we all experienced.
Being all kids on the island, with no supervision what so ever, in a day and age that was unheard of, could have these results. What's a kill when there is no one to tell you off? What's bad behaviour when no one is there to correct it?
Ralph, the protagonist, the 'sanest' of them all, tries to be the adult they seek, but being only 12 he lacks to autority that comes with age and is easily overthrowed by Jack, the antagonist, who instead of hard work of keeping the fire going so they can be rescued, promises a good life and plenty to eat.
In the end, the cynical outcome is not lost on me. Those who didn't think the fire, aka rescue, was important are those who in the end make the greatest fire which result in a ship taking them to a world where they have to take responsibility for there actions.
Still, it didn't do so much for me. Maybe I'm immune to the classics. :)