Lord of the Flies by William Golding: a Mini Review of a Short Classic

The first weekly theme for Novellas in November is short classics and I read Lord of the Flies, William Golding’s 1954 novel about a group of boys stranded on a desert island. It was his first novel and it certainly packs a punch. It was described as ‘A post-apocalyptic, dystopian survivor-fantasy … [A novel] for all time … A cult classic.’ Guardian. It’s a quick read of just 183 pages.

What are we? Humans? Or animals? Or savages? What’s grown-ups going to think? Going off-hunting pigs-letting fires out-and now!

A plane crashes on a desert island. The only survivors are a group of schoolboys. By day, they explore the dazzling beaches, gorging fruit, seeking shelter, and ripping off their uniforms to swim in the lagoon. At night, in the darkness of the jungle, they are haunted by nightmares of a primitive beast. Orphaned by society, they must forge their own; but it isn’t long before their innocent games devolve into a murderous hunt …

I thought I’d read this book years ago. But as soon as I began reading I realised I hadn’t read it – it’s one of those books you think you’ve read because you know the basic outline of what happens.

It is frighteningly believable. What at first seemed to the boys as a great adventure – stranded on a desert island, leaving them free to play all day without any annoying interference from adults, soon descended into a sinister nightmare scenario. They elected a leader, Ralph who initially made friends with Jack, the leader of a group of choirboys. But soon the two fell out as Jack, disappointed at not being chosen as leader, tried to take over – and a battle for power followed.

Ralph wanted to make sure they were seen if a ship passed the island and organised the boys to keep a fire going as a smoke signal. But when one of the younger boys thought he saw a beast in the jungle panic set in. Jack made himself the leader of the hunters, promising to hunt and kill the beast band the boys let the fire go out as they joined the hunt. Things got completely out of hand ending in chaos. It is absolutely gripping and very dark, showing the savage side of human nature.

6 thoughts on “Lord of the Flies by William Golding: a Mini Review of a Short Classic

  1. I think you put your finger on what’s most unsettling about this book, Margaret: it’s completely believable. In that way, I think, it’s a grim exploration of what we humans are capable of, and it’s not a pretty thought. To me, that’s what puts the power in this novel.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read this as a school book, so half a century ago, and yet I still remember it vividly. Given that I usually can’t remember what I read last week, that shows the impact it had on me! Glad you found it just as powerful.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.