Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Lord of the Flies - William Golding

A plane crashes on an uninhabited island and the only survivors, a group of schoolboys, assemble on the beach and wait to be rescued. By day they inhabit a land of bright fantastic birds and dark blue seas, but at night their dreams are haunted by the image of a terrifying beast.

In this, his first novel, William Golding gave the traditional adventure story an ironic, devastating twist. The boys' delicate sense of order fades, and their childish ears are transformed into something deeper and more primitive. Their games take on a horrible significance, and before long the well behaved party of schoolboys has turned into a tribe of faceless, murderous savages. 

Published by: Faber & Faber - Fiction
Year: 2012 - Kindle Edition
Pages: 201
ISBN: 978-0571273577 

I first read this book 35+ years ago for O'level English.  At the time I really didn't get this novel at all.  35 years on all I could remember of it was that following a plane crash a number of little boys were left on a deserted island with the only other inhabitants being pigs and at some stage there was a pig's head on a stick that was known as the Lord of the Flies.  When I started out on this challenge, of revisiting books I had read at school, I knew this one would be my nemesis so I decided to take the bull by the horn so to speak and make it my second revisited book.  

Overall it was exactly as I had expected a lot of little boys running round on a deserted island.  It started off pretty well the plane had crashed and initially they had to establish how many of them there were and they came up with a plan of who would be responsible for what jobs, i.e. collecting wood for a fire and looking for food.  They soon established that there were pigs on the island that could provide them with a source of food and built themselves shelters to protect themselves.  But soon two characters especially became adversaries and tensions grew.  'Lord of the Flies'  is a pigs head that is left on a stick and is referred to maybe twice within the book  and not until about chapter 8 and really didn't have much relevance to the story. What I hadn't remembered was how much bullying and violence was included within it which ultimately lead to murder.  The rivalry between Ralph and Jack reaches a climax and leaves Ralph running for his life.  Had the Navy not seen the smoke of their fire and come to the island on a rescue mission Ralph too would of met his demise. 

Second time around I now get that it is supposed to teach you, independence, team work, leadership skills etc....  but there is a certain amount of bullying and violence and ultimately a murder contained within the pages of this novel.

I had thought that perhaps this was now off the list of acceptable reading material for our young people especially as we are constantly telling them that violence is not the answer, but Jenny over at  the  Urban Cottage tells me she is only in her 20's but remembers reading this at school.  I am glad that my own teenagers were not subjected to this particular read.  I still don't think that most 14-16 year olds would have this novel high on their list of must reads and from my distant memory of being a teenage girl it was definitely more for the male brain than the female.  Certainly my daughter would have been more concerned with where she would plug in her straighteners than keeping the camp fire going.  

I can now say that I have re-visited 'Lord of the Flies' it wasn't as bad as I had remembered and I can now say that I understand it's meaning but I don't think it is one I will be keeping on the bookshelf to read again in another 35 years.  

Have any of you read this novel? If so what were your thoughts?

Meanwhile happy reading time one and all.



  1. I wondered how you would get on with The Lord of the Flies so thanks for your thoughts.
    It's one I've not wanted to read because of the bullying theme and glad I didn't have to study or teach from the text. I studied William Golding's The Spire as a mature student before going on to a teaching degree and found that interesting because of the building of a church spire (I think based on Salisbury Cathedral) and the architectural details. I think The Lord of the Flies is still floating around as a play for youth groups as our son mentioned about it for after-school drama group and I'm glad our drama-loving grandson isn't involved! He has experienced bullying at school and the issue needs talking through with children and young people with lots of support for them (and even the teachers these days). I think the type of group in Lord of the Flies might have been influenced by those progressive educational establishments that allowed children to 'express' themselves by doing what they liked! Hope that educational philosophy has 'died a death'. Hope I haven't rambled on. Happy reading!

    1. Not at all its always nice to get other people's opinions on these things and often they are so different but that's what makes this challenge so exciting. I think your right it was all about being able to express themselves But I think Piggy best describes Jack and his followers when tells Ralph that they are savages. I"m sorry to hear your grandson has been the subject of bullying . Like your grandson I was bullied at school and I can still remember how it felt 30+ years later I hope it's been resolved for him.

    2. Thanks, Mitzi. Yes, the problem was resolved for him with a change of schools and he's now much happier and in a very supportive educational environment. Thanks also for the further insight from your reading of The Lord of the Flies. Maybe I should read the book sometime myself? It's always good to stay open even if a subject in a book is not a pleasant one. We can find something to reflect upon.


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