By Zack Hersh
Nobel Prize winner William Golding's classic "Lord of the Flies" explores and exposes the darkest parts of human nature, and the childhood desire of independence. Shield your eyes if you must, as insanity and gore take hold.
When a group of British boys crash land on a desert island, their first reaction is "Yeah! No Adults!". But when it comes time to govern themselves, that's when they start to head down a slippery slope and the tension starts to rise.
Ralph, the main character, discovers a conch shell, and when he blows it, all the other boys that were on the island come to the sound of the shell. This earns him the spot as Chief, much to the other main character, Jack's, dismay.
Ralph's goal as chief was to keep a fire burning all the time, so that if a ship passed by, it would see the smoke and come rescue them. Jack, however, could've cared less about the fire, and more about hunting, and his role as head of the hunters.
As the chapters progress, the tension between the two rises, and is ultimately pushed over the edge when a ship passes by, but Jack and his hunters had let the fire go out so they could go hunting. A furious Ralph calls Jack out in front of all of the boys, and Jack leaves to form is own tribe.
But his new tribe didn't play by the rules. Each day, the members grew more and more savage in their hunting clan. Their only cares were the hunt, and trying to one up Ralph's group. They attacked them unprovoked, and stole from them. They were aggressive, and highly dangerous as more and more savagery was brought out in them.
The book also speaks of a "beast", whose existence is unjustified. The thought of it strikes terror in some, but challenge in others. The boys attempt to find it and kill it, but are never successful.
But the "beast" also strikes respect, especially from the "savages". During a fateful hunt in the heart of the climax, the savage tribe hunts down a pig for their feast and pyretic dance. As an offering of respect to the beast, they cut off the pig's head, and put the bloody thing on a stick, and jam it into the ground. This "Lord of the Flies" represents the craze and bloodthirst in these boys, but also the so called "beast" being the humans themselves.
This boiling conflict can definitely be described as people versus people; Jack versus Ralph and their building tension that is ultimately set over the edge. But also, Jack's lot of boys versus Ralph's lot. It can also be described as person versus self, with Jack and Ralph both unaware of what this island has birthed and planted in them. This fast paced, high intensity, inter webbing conflict is exciting and engaging throughout the entire book.
Another significant character, and my favorite, Piggy, is also a boy on the island. As his name implies, he's fat, but as Ralph realizes, he's very bright and is an excellent thinker. This earns Piggy Ralph's respect, and friendship. They use Piggy's glasses to light the fire. This is a symbol of how someone may seem useless-- fat and lazy, but are more valuable then perceived. Piggy is also a significant symbol in the book. He represents civility, as he keeps this while everyone else is being subconsciously changed by the island and the lack of rules and civilization. His appearance, paired with his intellectual capacities and ability to stay rational justifies this. Much would be different in the book without him and his mind.
As it seems every character and item is symbolic, there is much to take away from this masterful craft. The Pig Head represents the humans being the beast. The conch, I believe, represents order and something to go around or follow. Something sacred and divine, but fragile at the same time. Ralph represents order, and civility, while Jack represents savagery and primal instincts. This balance, or fight, between order and savagery is a main theme to take away, and how people's desire for power can bring out these primeval surges.
I think I, and many others can relate to this book and learn from this book. While I've never been stranded on a deserted island having to govern myself, I feel I can relate to Ralph. I have had many experiences where I have tried to keep everyone orderly but their "primal urges", or craze, was difficult to. Like Ralph, I got very frustrated by that, because when everyone is going nuts while your trying to keep things orderly, it's annoying.
I also feel that if some of my friends were in this position, they would be succumbed to the beckoning of the urges of savagery and human darkness, but in society, they're not. We never see what these boys were like before landing on the island, but we can get a pretty good idea from how they develop, evolve, and change when going through this.
Overall, I feel this craft of literature is stellar writing. From the deep symbolism, heart-racing conflict, and picture-painting detail, I loved the book despite the grossness of it, and despite the lunacy and bloodshed that took place.
The rich symbolism is a strong strength. So much can be learned and taken away from this story, from each character and item, and this quality is a distinct strength.
However, while I thoroughly enjoyed it and was thoroughly impressed, there were a few easy to spot weaknesses I would have changed. Golding uses the same words over and over, and it was slightly infuriating to read. There was too much word repetition, such as "savage" and "hunt" being way overused. In the same way, every time he said "Ralph's fair hair" was aggravating, like the word repitition. Also, I feel he included things that didn't matter or affect the plot. like four pages about a littlun crying.
Despite all this, I thought this was a phenomenal book. It's quick moving pace, deep symbolism, and powerful themes made it a keeper in my eyes. If you can get past the gore, the savagery, the killing, and the insanity, I would recommend this book because of all this. There is much that can be learned and interpreted from this book, and if you dare look past the present topics that make us nauseous, it will challenge your analytical capacity and leave an impact.