Monday, July 23, 2012

Book Nook - Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies by William Golding:

I can't believe I've just now read this classic - I never read it for a class in school or just to read it once I finished school.  So, here I am just now reading it....why did it take me so long?

I'm sure there have been many discussions, papers, theories, etc. made by students & non-students over the years about this rich, complex tale.  One thing for certain, this is a book ripe for discussion.  I could probably write a 10-page paper about the book (due this Friday) but instead I'll just touch upon a few things that really struck me.

First: tension.  The novel is absolutely brimming with it.  It starts off right in the beginning and builds momentum, positively exploding at the climax of the story.  If you ever wanted to study a novel for this aspect alone, I think this would be a good title to offer up. 

I guess this might be a good point to give a brief summary (as my former teachers and professors might suggest I do).  There is a plane wreck, on an uninhabited tropical island.  The survivors are young British boys, no adults.  The boys realize their grave predicament and begin to establish order: they choose a leader (bold Ralph), establish priorities, like keeping a fire burning for smoke signals, and build shelters and search for food.  But over time, their agreed-upon laws start to crumble, and real human nature rears its ugly head.

There are a lot of themes in the novel, so if one were to write a paper on the themes of the story, there would be a lot to choose from.  First we have pigs and hunting.  Having fun vs. responsibilities.  Following rules or setting your own, right or wrong.  There's also the beast - is it real, or is it something inside of us?

Now that I think of it, I'd probably enjoy reading the Cliff Notes for this book!  It probably brings up a lot of good ideas and topics of discussion.  And I don't mind telling you, even though this shows you my true English-class-geeky-self, that sometimes I wish I could be back in high school, discussing books like this with my peers and teachers.  Those were the days!

One thing about the book that I disliked was the ending.  I felt the timing was just a little too perfect for Ralph.  There were only two possible outcomes (thanks to all that built-up tension) but I would have liked to have seen a more realistic (or possibly a 3rd, unexpected) resolution.  The ending was too nice & neat for a story that flirts with dark themes.  But maybe the ending was more metaphor - order stepping in when chaos threatens to overcome, or perhaps the world of adults taking control of the world of children.  There's just so much to think about (and discuss) here.

Have you ever read Lord of the Flies?  Was it for school, or on your own?  Did you enjoy the story?  What are some things that you took away from it?

Answers on my desk by Friday!


By the way - I read this one on Books-on-CD, read by the author, which I highly recommend.  He gives a brief introduction on how he came up with the story (and his wife's approval) and why he set it up as he did.

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