Will our modern course of behavior last when we found ourselves cut off from society? Or will our primitive instincts take over and turn us into wild animals? This is the main theme in Lord of the Flies, written by William Golding. The book is a classic, first published in 1954, and can be seen as the predecessor of much bestsellers from nowadays, such as The Hunger Games and Gone.
When a plane full of school kids crashes in the ocean, they end up on a desert island, without any adults. Two boys find a conch on the beach, and assemble all the survivors by blowing it. Because of this action, the boy who had blown the conch, called Ralph, gets chosen as leader of the group.
The first plans are to figure out if the island is indeed uninhabited, and then to make a fire, so a boat can see the smoke in case one comes by. They decide that the fire must be watched all the time, so the smoke signal is always there. But when Jack makes the fire go out, and just then a boat comes by, Ralph and Jack get into a fight. This is the beginning of a bad turn of events. The fight causes a separation of the group, one big group under the leading of Jack, and the smaller group existing out of Ralph, Piggy, Simon and the twins.
Primitive instincts now start to take over the children. They start to believe in “the beast”, because of the many unexplainable events that take place. They decide to worship “the beast” with a head of a pig on a stick: the Lord of the flies. Then the group of Jack begins to hunt the group of Ralph. Simon and Piggy get killed, the twins get captured. Now Ralph is hunted down by all the children, and is forced to flee to the beach, because the forest is set on fire. Here he walks into a naval officer, who noticed the great fire and smoke. When the children know they’re rescued, they change right back to civilized kids.
However the story is the best aspect of the book, the writing style is also quite good. The surroundings are impressively described , and also the characters, who make great transformations, are well written. It was harder to read than I had imagined: while the story’s characters just consist out of children, the book is not written in a childish way at all.
I think Golding has worked out the theme he chose very well. The fading civilization is shown, most obvious, by the group slowly changing into a bunch of wild animals. But smaller things support the theme as well. For example: the breaking of the conch. This is a symbol for the end of democracy. The fear of “the beast”: this beast is actually made up by the children, but while in the beginning of the story most of the children find the tale of the beast nonsense, at last the tale has taken over the children and plays a great role in their actions.
Good, well written story, that gets you thinking. Worth being a classic.