Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

I kind of reject that the classical understanding of Lord of the Flies has lead critics to proclaim most commonly something along the lines of evil being innate in human beings. Sure, there is that concept in these pages. But there is so much more here. How long has it been since you've read it? Do you remember that the setting is somewhat postapocalyptic, or at least some of the boys believe it to be so? And don't forget that mental illness plays a huge role in this story! How about all the irony? All the foreshadowing? Besides, for the take away to be that evil is truly inherent, wouldn't the boys have to be born on the island and not just stranded there as adolescents? I think what I'm trying to say is that there's way more to Lord of the Flies than you might guess.

The novel could also be seen as a window on variations in maturity & the stages of human development. Some of the characters' evolution in these pages is basic maturation! William Golding illustrates this elegantly: A boy who cuts capers & teases in the first half of the book grows quite normally—despite the circumstances—older, wiser, & more empathic by book's end. (Note that the passage of time is marked by the literal growth of the boys' hair.) At the same time, but on the other hand, we have a different boy whose maturation essentially manifests as de-evolution. His transformation would be because of the circumstances of being stranded on a desert isle, not despite them. Each boy comes by their divergent progressions honestly.

None of that is to disempower Lord of the Flies. That would be impossible to do. It is haunting, gruesome, and monumentally sad. You know you're in for a rough go of it when, from the outset, the most mature character is the one most ridiculed. (And these are boys we're talking about here, so you know it's going to get bad.) Other ironies abound. This is a dark, dark book; at once difficult to read & difficult to put down. The narrative is remarkably, overwhelmingly dialog driven. It reminded me somewhat of A Clockwork Orange, actually. If you like one, you might also like the other.

Lord of the Flies is a page turner, the last chapter especially. That last chapter, entitled "Cry of the Hunters," will also make you realize the extent to which Mel Gibson ripped off William Golding when he clearly fashioned the ending of his appropriately entitled movie Apocalypto on the ending of Lord of the Flies! At least, so says Classic Bitch!