FocusON READING Lord of the Flies Allyssa Arizmendi Three Watson Irvine, CA Web site: caite.info PDF | This paper focuses on the a brief review on life, writing features displayed in his latter major work Lord of the Flies compared with other “deserted island”. PDF | This research deals with the main themes in the novel Lord of the Flies written by the British novelist William Golding. It shows how the.
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Page 1. LORD OF THE FLIES a novel by. WILLIAM GOLDING. Page 2. Contents. 1. The Sound of the Shell. 2. Fire on the Mountain. 3. Huts on the Beach. 4. Language Mind the Gap study guide for the novel, Lord of the Flies by William are Short Stories, Poetry, To Kill a Mockingbird, A Grain of Wheat, Lord of. LORD OF THE FLIES a novel by. WILLIAM GOLDING. Chapter 1. The Sound of the Shell. Chapter 2. Fire on the Mountain. Chapter 3. Huts on the Beach.
The creature is sitting by it. Jack takes the shell and gives his hearty endorsement, again advocating rules: Golding would not be the first to identify the female with attempts to control or tame male violence; he concludes that the female is unsuccessful because she is too weak, flawed, flesh-bound to overcome the ingenuity, craftiness, and sheer brutality of male violence. For twelve-year-old boys? He says that Simon had been trying to tell them something about a dead man, but none of the others around Ralph seem to hear.
Apparently, he promises to obey all the decided rules and conventions of the island but violates them when his authority is on the stake. We can obviously observe his domineering behavior when he proposes to be the chief of the boys but he is disheartened when majority of the boys vote for the Ralph.
He is no doubt an adventurous-minded person and is busy all the time in the pig-hunting. He is bold, reckless and brutal in his actions. He defies the authority of the Ralph by neglecting the lighting of the fire on the mountain top. He machinates against the position of Ralph. Even he also threatens Sam and Eric not to side with Ralph. Although he does not believe in the existence of beast yet he is obsessed with the fear of the unknown.
Once he gets scared by the dead parachutist when he climbs up the top of the mountain in search of the beast. He soothes the Littluns by offering the head of the Pig as a sacrifice to the beast.
The spiritual power is vested in the character of Simon. He is a Christ-like figure and is helpful to all those who are in need. It is his farsightedness which helps the boys in the discovering of the real truth about the beast seen by the twins. He further ensures the boys that there is no beast on the island. Although he himself is victim to some sort of hallucination, yet he does not believe in the existence of beast.
Simon believes that the real beast exists within the man himself. The yelling ceased, and Samneric lay looking up in quiet terror. Roger advanced upon them as one wielding a nameless authority. The above lines refer to the brutal power exercised in the novel. The most brutal action ever taken in the story is the death of Piggy at the hands of the unsympathetic Roger.
The intellectual power in the novel rests with the fat boy, Piggy. We first meet him when he comes out of the undergrowth and guesses with his insight about the other boys who may be lying scattered on the island. Piggy is scientific in most of his designs. It is he who introduces the conch to the Ralph and also teaches him how to make a sound out of it. He also advises the boys for building huts on the beach.
He is very much anxious about the Littluns. Hetries his best to calm them and also tries to manage for their safety. When the Littluns feel afraid of the existence of beast on the island, Piggy answers them that there is nothing to be afraid of on the island. The death of Piggy at the hands of Roger implies that intellectual power cannot withstand the brutal power.
The Fate of the Intellectual The tragic and unexpected deaths of the noble men also seem to have a thematic interest in the novel. It is the intellectual who have always brought the humanity out of the abyss of ignorance and barbarism in every society. Unfortunately, they have never been given their rightful prestige and honor in the society. William Golding has realistically depicted that true condition of the contemporary intellectual in Lord of the Flies.
Both, Simon and Piggy are men of knowledge and understanding. It is because of their sagacity that they contested against the evil forces on the island. It is with the tragic deaths of Simon and Piggy, the evil overwhelms the entire island. This element of uncertainty may be seen in most of the Post War literary masterpieces. Lord of the Flies also reflects the contemporary approach to life. The plot of the novel has gorgeously been saturated with uncertain events.
The dramatic air crash seems to be the first unexpected event which gives further impetus to the uncertain situations on the island. The sudden deaths of Simon and Piggy are unexpected dealings.
All the boys give the impression of hopefulness and despair. The head of the slain pig looks to Simon as if Lord of the Flies. Ultimately, the arrival of the navel officer at the eleventh-hour is the last unexpected happening that leads the boys to the world which is more uncertain than the coral island.
Further, the fear of the unknown and the existence of beast have enhanced the atmosphere of uncertainty on the island. The Littluns. Even some of the others. When a pig is killed by Jack and his hunters, jack cuts off the head of the slain pig and stabs it with a wooden spear and then insert that spear into a rock.
It is believed to be a sacrifice to the beast. The Lord of the Flies Scares Simon and tells him that he is present in all the boys. Thus the very title of the novel is also symbolic of the emergence of evil and its conflict with the saint-like figure Simon. The sporadic mock-hunts and the fretful cries of the boys, Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood! Fire and smoke have been presented in the novel as symbols of hope and rescue. Ralph, time and again, insists on the lighting of fire on the top of the mountain, so that the rising smoke would attract someone and thus come to their help.
The major characters chosen by the author also carry a symbolic significance. Ralph is a symbol of civilized life and behavior. He brings unity and discipline among the boys on the island. Jack represents brutality and evil. Piggy is an epitome of intellectuality and farsightedness, while Simon signifies saintliness in Lord of the Flies. Initially, William Golding was a school teacher.
He was well aware of the child psychology. Later, during the War time, he gave up that profession and joined the Royal Navy. When the War came to an end, he once again returned to the profession of teaching. The experiences of the war and the bleak aspect of human nature have left a deep pessimistic impression on the mental personality of the author.
The fictitious island manifests an atmosphere of warfare as well as the whereabouts of the English school boys. It is in view of the war that the boys have been evacuated by the pilot of an aircraft. At the end of the novel also we have an interruption from the British navel officer. The boys being rescued by the officer may not bring any drastic change in the behavior of the boys.
If they are safely taken away from the coral island, there also, the war is already going on among the adults. Thus nobody can escape from the essence of pessimism at any point in the novel. This leitmotif has been made concrete through a well-knit plot, universality of the myth, realistic portrayal of characters, apt and perceptible symbolism, thematic imagery, sensible events, graphic and imaginative descriptions and last but not the least his unique narrative style which makes the story gripping and suspensive.
As the story ensues, the thematic concern of the novel is enhanced and integrated by so many motifs befalling in the novel including, loss of civilization, the motif of power, the fate of intellectuals, the uncertainty of life, symbolic manifestations, and the essence of pessimism prevailing till the end of the novel.
Evans, I. A Short History of English Literature. Penguin Books Ltd. Golding, W. Lord of the Flies. Faber and Faber Ltd. Green, J; Nicholas J. Karolides Encyclopedia of Censorship. New York: Infobase Publishing 4. Halder, S. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers Distributers, P Ltd 5. Kulkarni, I. The Novels of William Golding.
Atlantic Publishers Distributers, P Ltd 6. Stade, G; Karbienner, K. Infobase Publishing. Related Papers. Symbolism In the Lord of Flies. By Wilson M Guandaru. How does Golding present society through symbolism in the. By Maneesha Kaur Khalae. I Lord of the Flies. Ralph has been outdone by both Piggy and Simon. Ralph and Piggy head toward the party as well and approach the laughing, singing, relaxing boys, most of whom are nearly done eating. When some of the listening boys say they want to join Jack, Piggy leads Ralph away, warning that there is going to be trouble.
Thunder sounds again, and great raindrops begin to fall. Ralph reminds them that he has shelters, but Jack does not. All are disturbed by the storm; some of the young boys run about screaming. Jack yells for all to dance, and between bursts of lightning, Roger takes the part of the pig, charging at Jack, as the others grab spears, cooking spits, and firewood weapons. They were glad to touch the brown backs of the fence that hemmed in the terror and made it governable.
Simon crawls out of the forest into the group of yelling boys and tries to scream over them about the dead parachutist. He breaks out of the circle, but the hunters chase after him and are out of control, forcing Simon into the role of beast. There were no words, and no movements but the tearing of teeth and claws.
The great parachute canvas and its dead passenger finally are blown out to sea. Chapter 10 again opens with Piggy and Ralph. Ralph, with a swollen cheek that has reduced his eye to a slit and a scarred knee, limps toward Piggy, who is sitting on the platform, a place of democracy, order, and problem solving that now seems emptied of the ceremonial power it once possessed.
Ralph caresses the light gleaming conch and asks yet again what they are going to do. He laughs sharply at the thought of calling a meeting. When he stops, he speaks again of Simon, saying bluntly that they murdered him. However, no matter what Ralph says, Piggy tries to rationalize. He warns Ralph not to admit to the twins that he and Ralph were took part in the dance. When the twins appear with wood for the fire, they say they got lost in the forest after the feast.
Piggy says he and Ralph left early, and the twins say they did the same. Ralph is silent and lets the others weave their own stories; all have been shaken by the experience, but apparently no one is able to speak of the incident directly.
He reminds the boys that the beast may try to break in, like it crawled in on them the other night in its disguise. A boy tries to clarify what happened, but Jack insists that they did not kill the beast: How could we—kill—it? Jack also continues to encourage ancient pagan ritual, reminding them that they must leave a present for the beast after a hunt. At that moment, Ralph and the others are trying to make a fire, although it proves difficult, because everything is still wet from the storm.
They think about getting rescued, and Ralph considers the figure in the parachute; this is the first time it is revealed that anyone had seen much of the figure that had floated down by them.
He says that Simon had been trying to tell them something about a dead man, but none of the others around Ralph seem to hear. Even he does not seem to have pieced together the entire mystery. Since the two are disheartened about tending the fire with so few boys left in their group and since the logs and other fuel are so wet, they decide to forget about the fire for the night and to start it again in the morning. They go to sleep, and Ralph dreams of being home but must alter the dream when he realizes that some of the places he had once considered idyllic because they are naturally wild no longer have any appeal for him.
He is awakened by Piggy, who says he has been making a disturbing noise, and the two see that the twins are fighting with each other in their sleep. It used to be that only the youngest boys suffered such disturbances. Ralph is again awakened by Piggy, who says he hears something. Ralph hears nothing at first but then does, and the two boys become frightened.
A horrid voice just outside the shelter whispers for Piggy to come out. Ralph tells him not to answer, and as the voice calls again, Piggy has an asthma attack. The shelter collapsing only increases the chaos, and the dark figures escape. When the remaining boys pull themselves out and check on Piggy, they realize his breathing is less labored. All have been battered, and when they tell their own tales about what they did to the enemy, Ralph realizes they have, in fact, also fought one another in the confusion.
Piggy says he thought they came for the conch shell, but when Ralph checks, it is still sitting by the platform, ready for another meeting to help bring about some structure and order. Piggy knows what they really wanted though, since his glasses are missing. Without them he cannot see, and now he turns to Ralph and asks a question similar to the one that Ralph had recently asked Piggy: Piggy has also become notably weakened.
The boys who have taken the glasses return to their camp, turning cartwheels as they go. These cartwheeling boys, however, are delighting in having power over the others. In chapter 11, Ralph blows on ashes to see if there might still be enough spark to start a new fire, but there is none.
He suggests that they must figure out a way to get his glasses back, that Ralph is the only one on the island who has accomplished anything and that he must tell them what to do. Ralph reminds the group of how Jack had let the fire go out before, just when a ship had been passing. The twins agree but not totally, saying they will bring swords with them as well. Piggy asks what adults will think of the events on the island.
This demonstrates he believes they will be rescued some day and also shows his lack of understanding that they are trapped on the island because of the violence of adults. He says he will go to Jack Merridew with the conch in his hand. He recites what he will say, explaining that he will tell Jack he must give his glasses back because it is the right thing to do.
He is trembling, and tears fall from his eyes. We realize that his logic will not work on Jack and that his own fear will make the confrontation impossible. Ralph, nonetheless, says Piggy can try his plan and that he and the twins will go with him. The meeting is concluded, so the four boys can eat and prepare to leave.
But the boys have other ideas, and Ralph gives in, realizing that it is impossible to look the way he would like them to. He possibly realizes as well that no matter how they look, they cannot go back to the way they were.
The twins, once again off track in the discussion, suggest that they should paint their faces, but Ralph is adamantly against this and sharply tells that they will not do it. This lack of memory shows that he is weakened mentally as well as physically. Piggy chimes in, and Ralph berates him, angry that Piggy is finishing his thoughts as if he cannot remember them himself, which actually seems to be the case.
The twins look more closely at Ralph. The four set off, with Ralph limping along first, visually impaired because of the hot haze, his long hair, and his swollen face that presses his eye partially closed. He seems unaware that this latest plan contains the potential for tragedy. As they pursue the precarious route, they are forty feet above the water, and Piggy questions the safety of the situation. From the pinnacle comes a fake war cry and someone shouts down to ask who they are.
Ralph blows the conch shell and says he is calling an assembly. They snicker slightly, and Ralph repeats that he is calling an assembly. Finally, Ralph asks where Jack is. They tell him he is hunting and has ordered that no one be allowed in.
Ralph explains why he and the others have come, and his words are met with laughter. Jack, back from his hunt, comes up behind Ralph and asks what he wants. Piggy cries out in fear, and the boys on the rock jeer loudly.
Jack rushes at Ralph to stab his chest, but Ralph deflects it. After additional strikes, there is an unstated mutual agreement to not use the spears for stabbing. Breathing heavily, the boys now part and taunt one another.
Even in his vulnerable state, Piggy reminds Ralph that their goal is to get the glasses and be able to restart their fire. Ralph realizes that he is right, relaxes his tight muscles, and rests his spear butt on the ground.
He restates that they have come for the glasses, and again Piggy whispers that they are important because of the fire. The direct, logical approach and the attempt at negotiation expectedly fails. Jack orders his men to grab the twins and tie them up. While at first they hesitate, they then do as commanded, surging with newfound power.
Calling Jack a swine serves to demean him and reduce him to a helpless, hunted animal, forcing him out of his previously established role as powerful hunter. He has blood on his hands from more than one source. He shouts that he has the conch, and the boys fall silent, showing the power of the symbol even in the worst of circumstances. In the silence, Ralph hears a stone fall past his head; Roger has thrown it, while his other hand is on the stick serving as a lever under a huge rock.
When they boo, he is still able to silence them by holding up the shell. Jack has now backed into the spear-yielding tribe, and they appear ready to charge. Ralph and Piggy seem minute against the throng. High overhead, Roger, with a sense of delirious abandonment, leaned all his weight on the lever.
Piggy is hit. The conch shell shatters into pieces, and Piggy is hurled down the foot drop. His body is immediately sucked into the sea. He screams wildly and takes credit for the horrific death, warning Ralph that he will get the same treatment. He hollers that Ralph no longer has a tribe or a conch and that he, Jack, is the chief. Still, it is not enough that Ralph has seemingly lost everything.
Jack wants him dead. He launches his spear at Ralph, and it slashes past his ribs.
The screaming tribe moves forward; two more spears fly by Ralph, and he runs, making it into the dense forest. Jack, the new chief, orders his charges back to the fort. Then, he turns to the twins and tells them they must join the tribe. He pokes Sam with a spear repeatedly, and then Roger relieves him of the task. When the chapter opens, Ralph is hiding but is still relatively close to Castle Rock, and as it gets darker he sneaks out of the ferns.
He smells the roasting pig and realizes that, while the others are feasting, he will be safe. He goes to find fruit and then works his way back toward the rock at the end of the island. He takes the spear that had been holding up the head and backs away as he keeps his eyes on it. He discerns the figures of the twins in the sentry post and is greatly disappointed to see them as part of this ghastly tribe. Not to be defeated, however, Ralph moves closer and calls to them.
When they realize it is Ralph, they tell him he must leave and even fiercely wave a spear. They will all hunt him the following day, and they explain that they will use signals as they search the island, spreading out in a great line across it.
Ralph asks what will happen if he is found, and he gets no direct answer, as he hangs over the rock where Piggy fell and died far below. The twins warn him about Jack and Roger, and when they hear someone coming they fear that it is Roger checking to be sure they are doing their assigned job.
Quickly, they throw Ralph a piece of meat. As he finds a place to hide in the ferns and grass, he hears Sam and Eric yelling on the top of the rock, panicked and in pain. The boy beats at the ferns around Ralph but continues on, signaling the others near him.
For some time, Ralph hears no more cries. He realizes as he looks around that the great rock that had sent Piggy to his death is actually now helping him, since it has created a secure hiding space. Roger and Jack ask if this is where Ralph said he would hide, and this time a voice answers with a definite yes. Ralph tenses but then realizes he is still safe in the thick growth, that even if someone wormed his way in Ralph would have the advantage.
The thicket area is hit, but only broken twigs and leaves fall on Ralph. The boys cheer. Now Ralph fears the consequences as he hears the boys straining to push another enormous rock. Once released, its great force shoots Ralph into the air, and the soil only a few feet from him is wrenched up along with roots, stumps, and sticks. Ralph then hears whispering close by. There is snickering, an objection, more snickering, and then smoke appears.
He tries to decide the best course of action and repeatedly wishes he had time to think. He concludes he can either climb a tree or run through the line of boys and then run back, losing them. He has seen pigs escape that way, he thinks.
The observation only emphasizes his persistent optimism as well as his near helplessness, for while the plan can work, there also have been pigs that have been killed, and Jack has evolved into more of an expert hunter. Ralph sees his third option as hiding. By mistake, he runs into the open and is directly in front of the broken pig skull that he had knocked off its skewer and broken. Now out of the brambles and trees, Ralph sees more smoke and realizes the fire the boys have created is huge.
He decides his best strategy is to hide, and after some searching he finds the hidden spot where Simon had so often retreated and was never found. For the reader, this brings to mind the fact that Simon told Ralph he thought Ralph would be saved.
Ralph sees that the boy is ready to poke in his spear, and Ralph emerges from his hiding spot in a burst of fear, strength, and anger. He pushes the boy over, but others are already moving in. He races from them and the rushing fire, stumbles, and right before he falls, sees a shelter erupt in flames; the shelters were one of the few symbols of civilization they had on the island and which he was largely responsible for building.
He then offers a description of the rest of the cap as well as of a uniform and gun. Again, like the shelter, these are symbols of civilization, although the presence of the gun indicates that, even in a civilized sphere, a weapon is needed.
Finally, after the description of these items, it is revealed that the person wearing them is a naval officer, who is accompanied by others in boats behind him. Smoke, what Ralph has been continually telling the others was imperative for their rescue, does in fact bring it about, yet, ironically, this smoke has been created by Jack in an act of reckless aggression. Any dead bodies? He shakes with sobs, and others join in. The book ends, some have criticized, with a gimmick that saves Ralph just in time.
Yet the ending, however forced it may seem, reminds the reader that the evil that has taken place here has all been at the hands of little boys. Also, ironically, the boys are being rescued from this evil realm by an armed ship that will bring them back to civilization, which has been in the throes of its own horrid war. He descries realities of human behavior and consciousness which theological statements indicate but do not enact.
What is it like to experience the fall from innocence into sin? What is it like to experience damnation? To create an idolatrous god in the image of man or beast? To be stretched on the rack of such contraries as life and death, sacred and profane love, the self and the other? And, more tentatively, what would it be like to experience atonement and resurrection?
However remote and academic the theologian may seem, he asserts that his discourse has been prompted by events and experience judged to be of cosmic significance and giving access to the way things ultimately are.
This process can also operate in reverse, when the creative imagination reenacts, in the form of myth, the immediate experience presupposed by doctrinal formulation. Such reversal can go further: Events and new knowledge can cause a disorientation calling for new theological solutions.
How far a basic doctrine can be qualified and reinterpreted while remaining the same doctrine is a particularly perplexing question today. One factor that makes Golding a Christian writer is his recognition of the difference between these two anthropologies and his siding with the theological rather than the biological version, though he also recognizes that the terms in which the Christian doctrine becomes existentially significant today will require a reformulation of orthodoxy.
Such absence can take two forms. In one, God is absent simply because he is unnecessary. The only meanings are those which man himself creates, and the puzzles and predicaments of existence are solved by human rationality scientifically applied.
One reason Golding is a novelist rather than a polemicist is that he feels the attractiveness of [the] humanist claim. If only he could drive back the mystery until it disappeared and order his life by rational principles and techniques! But with another form of the absence of God the rationalism of Piggy and [Nick] Shales [a character from Free Fall] is powerless to deal. The true God is absent, but his place has been taken by a distorted, demonic image.
Golding enacts experience which reveals that the rationalist hope is based upon a reductionist account of human awareness. Man is haunted by the supernatural, by a reality that transcends his own power of mastery and order and presents itself as a rival contender in the power game, requiring some kind of propitiation.
The boys on the island. The consequences are murder, cannibalism, madness, despair. It is possible to argue, as Piggy does, that demons do not exist and that a cool rationalism will expose the deception.
The impotence of this program is, Golding shows, due to the fact that man comes to cherish the demons because they endorse his own will to power. The demons are objectifications of lust masquerading as ultimate reality, and man needs the demons because they are the means by which he writes himself large upon the universe.
Golding is not one of those simple-minded evangelists who see religion as an easy solution to the puzzles of existence. Indeed, the official representatives of religion come off badly in the novels. The choir-boys in Lord of the Flies become horrifying hunters. Men do terrible things when they act in the name of religion and claim divine authority for their programs. Precisely because it points to a transcendent reality, religion can tempt a man into the belief that he can himself attain transcendence, that he can climb out of the relativism and finitude of his condition and attain absolute truth.
Here, indeed, we find the deepest paradox of human consciousness: So it is that he builds towers of Babel from which to survey his condition sub specie aeternitatis and claim equality with God. But the towers are never high enough. Like the original tower, they are unfinished, witnessing to the inevitable limitations of human endeavor and to the hubris which has attempted to go beyond them.
Human pride is one aspect of what Christian orthodoxy means by Original Sin. The importance of this doctrine lies in its recognition of evil in the best of human actions.
Golding has shown what happens when a man forgets his fallenness. An essay that attempts to draw out meanings is bound to simplify, to ignore richness and density, to fasten on this part of the content rather than that, to treat the novels as problems to be solved rather than experiences to be entered.
I have tried to show that the Christian frame is more inclusive than its rivals, though this is not to say that every image and event has a counterpart in Christian doctrine. Golding gives us new ways of imaging Christian doctrine, mythological enactments which are also in an important sense the modern equivalents of the archetypal stories in Genesis. And what he reformulates is recognizably the mainstream of Christian tradition, not some reduction of it which is hardly distinguishable from its atheistic alternatives.
What cannot be denied is the depth and seriousness of his presentation and the sharp reality of our response to it. This is one of the complicated and fascinating effects of the book. For in the course of the narrative our suspension of disbelief is so perfectly manipulated by Golding that we temporarily forget that these characters are in fact children and respond to them as if they were adults.
Thus, when they are rescued by a naval officer at the end of the story, and we recognize with a shock that they are children after all, we are willing to accept anything but this, even an atomic war, which now seems less savage than the violent obsessions of young Jack and his followers. True, the conclusion of Lord of the Flies is ironic, a kind of frame which sets the fable in place. And who will rescue the adult and his cruiser? We welcome with uncomplicated relief the figure of authority.
We conclude that children require strict supervision and constant discipline, for without these, they pose a serious threat to the adult world. Doris Lessing has written about this in her fine novel Memoirs of a Survivor , which is also set in a future postwar period. How can they be dealt with? The young Sophy, a beautiful child much admired for her angelic charm, reflects malevolently about killing her twin sister, whom she thinks receives more attention than she does.
Both sisters grow up to be terrorists who not only fantasize about the politics of violence, but practice it. All of this resonates with our contemporary experience. Two girls discussed ways of killing their sleeping parents after a family argument, then set fire to their trailer home, police say.
Deputies said the murder was planned after the girls, aged 9 and 13, got into an argument with their parents Friday. The girls were booked with aggravated arson and the attempted murders of Truett Simpson, 51, and his wife, Glenda, 42, who were rescued from their burning mobile home about 3 a. It was first thought that the daughters died in the fire, but they were found later in New Orleans.
As our society grows more severely age-segregated, the generations come to regard each other as alien—the elderly are strangers to the middle-aged, children perceive their parents as belonging to another species, parents are threatened by their children. And his death, a communal execution, so echoes the Crucifixion that the correspondence seems complete. An alert reading of the text, though, together with an examination of the biblical references to both Christ and his apostle Simon Peter, gives a somewhat different view of Simon.
The distinction between the roles of Christ and his apostle may seem a fine one, but the essential elements of the difference are important both to the story and its underlying allegory.
He says in his book of essays A Moving Target: We have come to it, have we not? The figure of Christ is commonly conflated with that of any especially spiritual character—anyone who evidences saintliness, selflessness, and undiscriminating love for his fellow creatures. In fact, most of the apostles and many ordinary Christians of that period died on crosses and gibbets, and in arenas—all of them murdered by mobs. I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.
For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. Published in , it rapidly gained popularity in England, then in America, then in translation throughout Europe, Russia, and Asia, until it became one of the most familiar and studied tales of the century.
In the s it was rated an instant classic in the literature of disillusionment that grew out of the latest great war, and we felt certain it was the perfect fable more fable than fiction that spelled out what had gone wrong in that dark and stormy time and what might devastate our future. But in the postwar generation a new spirit was rising, a new wind blowing on campus, a new politics forming to oppose the old establishment and its failures.
The identity assigned to Golding during these years was not substantially altered by his later work. He remained the man who wrote Lord of the Flies, the man who felt he had to protest his designation as pessimist even in his Nobel speech of Nobel Lecture — Have we been entirely fair? Writer and reader conspire to sketch a portrait of the artist that may or may not endure.
In I began correspondence with Golding in preparation for a book on his work William Golding: A Critical Study. My thesis. The Greek is still there and I go back to it when I feel like that; now I must get in touch with the contemporary scene, and not necessarily the literary one; the scientific one perhaps.
Baker and Golding, letter 12 August Science? What could he mean? I interviewed Golding in I also asked whether he felt he belonged to the long line of English writers who, especially since Darwin, had taken scientist and the scientific account of things into their own work—a line running from Tennyson and including among others Hardy, Wells, Huxley, Snow, Durrell, and Fowles.
While we wait for recovery, if it ever comes, we should adjust our accounts. We shall find that much of the fiction was oriented and directly influenced by his knowledge of science and that there is an evolution from the extreme negativism of Lord of the Flies toward greater respect for the scientist and scientific inquiry.
Was there a contemporary literary source or precedent on which he could build his own account of the failure of humanity and the likelihood of atomic apocalypse? As the war clouds darkened over Europe he and some of our most notable poets removed themselves to the new world. There Huxley continued to create what we may call antiutopias and utopias with the same gusto, apparently, for both kinds.
One antiutopia is certainly a disgusting job and best forgotten. The last utopia he attempted which was technically and strictly a utopia and ideal state, Island , is one for which I have a considerable liking and respect. This may be explained, in part, by the uncritical adoration of the scientist in our society, but another factor is the misunderstanding found in the prestige introduction by E. Forster in the first American edition of Lord of the Flies and subsequently held before our eyes for 40 years.
We do not meet Simon at all. Actually, rightly understood, Piggy is respected all too much by our leaders, for he provides the means whereby they wield and extend their powers.
Piggy is short-sighted. He is rationalist. Piggy never gets anywhere near coping with anything on that island. He dismisses the beast. Piggy understands society less than almost anyone there at all. He is the soulless child who adores the science that blew up the cities and obliterated the technological society he idealizes. He meets his adult counterpart when the boys find the dead airman on the mountaintop: And, in his hour of triumph, he looks down from his castle rock on the defeated Ralph and Piggy: In later years Golding struggled toward a view in which science and the humanities might be linked in useful partnership, and he tried to believe, as Huxley surely did, that the visible world and its laws were the facade of a spiritual realm.
He realized something of this effort in the moral thermodynamics of Darkness Visible and again, somewhat obscurely, in the posthumous novel The Double Tongue His Nobel speech asserts that the bridge between the visible and invisible worlds, one he failed to find in the earlier Free Fall, does in fact exist.
Thus both novelists recovered to some degree from the trauma of disillusionment with scientific humanism suffered during the war, and both aspired to hope that humanity would somehow evolve beyond the old tragic flaws that assured the rebirth of the devil in every generation. Note 6. In a letter to his brother, Sir Julian Huxley, 9 June , Huxley counters the idea that there can be no redemption for fallen man: They set out to map the wilderness, casting themselves in the role of heroic explorers who confidently inscribe their presence on the island.
In this contest, Golding suggests that the urge to dominate and the excitement derived from finding oneself in a position of power is innate to the boys, as his description of Henry, one of the younger children, demonstrates: Henry became absorbed beyond mere happiness as he felt himself exercising control over living things. He talked to them, urging them, ordering them. Driven back by the tide, his footprints became bays in which [the little sea creatures] were trapped and gave him the illusion of mastery.
Both boys are desperate to distract from their own helplessness and do so by projecting their fear of subjection onto an even weaker other. Symptomatically, the killings become ever more ferocious and orgiastic, culminating in a particularly vicious attack on a sow. Beside themselves with fear, the boys fling themselves at this female emblem of their own panic and vulnerability, determined to master and kill it once and for all. Roger ran round the heap, prodding with his spear whenever pigflesh appeared.
Jack was on top of the sow, stabbing downward with his knife. Roger found a lodgment for his point and began to push till he was leaning with his whole weight. The spear moved forward inch by inch and the terrified squealing became a high- pitched scream. The sow collapsed under them and they were heavy and fulfilled upon her. Roger began to withdraw his spear and the boys noticed it for the first time.
Robert stabilized the thing in a phrase which was received uproariously. The boys engage in a relentless, ultimately self-annihilating battle against their own nature. Willingly, they metamorphose into what they are not, donning impassive, uniform masks of masculine strength intended to bring about an eclipse of the terror of individuality.
Notably, the mask of savagery is so compelling and indisputably masculine that, while wearing it, the boys feel free to tie their long hair back for comfort, an act previously perceived as girlish and hence entirely out of the question.
Both Piggy and Ralph become guilty of disrupting the camouflage by reminding the other boys of the actual reality of their condition. The need to silence these voices of emasculation becomes an imperative necessity. Piggy is also the only boy who has enjoyed a practically non-patriarchal upbringing. With both his parents dead, Piggy, lives with his aunt whose authority he is never hesitant to invoke. The boys quickly take to identifying themselves in opposition to him, whose deficient masculinity begins to function as a reference point for the suitability of their own conduct and appearance.
He says things like Piggy. The process of becoming a man within the conceptual framework of this particular kind of masculinity necessitates a complete surrender of the individual self to totalitarianist, effectively self- oppressive rules and modes of behaviour, hence propagating not self-liberation but ritual self-oblivion. Recoiling in terror from the reality of being frightened little boys on a desert island beleaguered by a world at war, the boys seek refuge in the security of ritualistic role-play.
Ironically, in order not to lose face, they resort to gender-specific masquerade. Although the boys launch repeated attempts at discussing their communal quandary, their basic emotional inarticulacy remains conspicuous. Even feelings of joy and delight are translated into a playful enactment of combat, accompanied by a shouting of linguistically unintelligible neologisms of pure, physical excitement: According to Middleton, seemingly innocuous boyish behaviour like this hints at a grave masculine dilemma.
Heroes act; they do not engage in discussions about how they feel. Heroes are free, independent agents, unencumbered by a complicated emotional life, maintaining their superiority by means of a glamorously costumed outward appearance and a compelling style. In most cases, their heroism is facilitated by an explicit negation of their private persona.
For example, unlike Clark Kent, Superman appears incognito, reduced to an exemplary icon of efficiency and action. They are inclined to mistake the fantasy of heroism for something real, learning and acting out its scripts until their individual identities become indistinguishable from the roles they play.
Their self-assertive agency wilts immediately, to be replaced by an emotional display of feminine passivity and helplessness. A real man now occupies the superior position of masculinity that the boys struggled to usurp, an officer emblematic of the heroism the boys were so keen to emulate. Clearly, the officer himself has internalised all the imperative ideals of patriarchal masculinity: He turned away to give them time to pull themselves together.
After all there is a war going on! Lord of the Flies seems a far more complex and complicated book than humanist critics like Reilly, discussing an entirely hypothetical conditio humana, appear to find conceivable.
Golding subverts. He reminds them of their long infatuation with social Darwinism.
In Lord of the Flies, the world of the island is apprehended from the viewpoint of the schoolboys. But their preoccupation with natural phenomena and survival rapidly changes to a preoccupation with the unknown and inexplicable.
They face beasts and phantoms in a succession of apparently supernatural events. Uncertain and fearful, the boys are subjected to unexplained phenomena. Initially, Ralph and Jack hedge their bets by stating that even if there was a beast, they would hunt and kill it. And in pace with the growing sense of strangeness, the island environment itself becomes equivocal and menacing: Yet this strange transformation of the natural fabric of the coral reef is rationally explained by Piggy as a mirage.
But such is the general uncertainty now of what is real and unreal that the fall of darkness is unwelcome.
The equivocal nature of familiar things is constantly in view: What was anything? Thus, doubt and hesitation increase. Maurice says: Here, Simon elliptically hints that the Best might be them: The natural as opposed to supernatural interpretation of events is given its final and fullest exposition. Yet, even so, the uncanny does not completely override the supernatural.
He walked slowly into the middle of the clearing and looked steadily at the skull that gleamed as white as ever the conch had done and seemed to jeer at him cynically.
An inquisitive ant was busy in one of the eye sockets but otherwise the thing was lifeless. Or was it? Effectively, the fantastic elements in Lord of the Flies operate in tandem with those of carnival: These are the kind of assumptions that buoyed the complacency of England, and indeed other Allied nations, namely, that the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis were an exclusively German phenomenon.
We participate in the shock that this shift in perspective brings. Instead of externalizing and projecting evil onto objects, phantoms, and supernatural beasts, we confront the reality of human destructiveness. One of the most powerful carnivalesque elements in Lord of the Flies is that of the pig, which Golding uses symbolically to subvert dominant racial assumptions, in particular toward the Jews, and, universally, toward those humans considered alien or foreign to any grouping.
The pig symbol is developed in Lord of the Flies as the pig of carnival time. It is a major motif: As I noted earlier, Peter Stallybrass and Allon White argue that the eating of pig meat during carnival time is an anti-Semitic practice. It is an act of contempt toward the Jews for bringing about the Lenten fast.
White asserts: We find something of the Jewish intellectual in this description of the bespectacled Piggy, with his different accent and physical feebleness. The stereotype of Jewish feebleness has been a stock in trade of anti-Semites and peddlers of degeneration theories. In essence, Golding utilizes the imperial tradition of pig sticking to suggest a continuum between English imperialism and fascism.
The misrule of carnival in contemporary history is presented as integral not simply to Nazis or other totalitarian regimes but also to England with its divisive and cruel class system. Golding lays bare an alternative view to civilized English behavior, one that counters accepted, familiar, erroneous complacencies. These modes are deployed in the novel as an attack on what Golding deems to be a complacent English democracy, and its masculinity and classist attitudes in particular, in relation to the rise of National Socialism.
See Dawson, Soldier Heroes: British Adventure, Empire, and the Imagining of Masculinities. See Sander Gilman, Franz Kafka: The Jewish Patient. We watch the conch, we might say, liberated from ordinariness, grasped, filled with meaning: Something creamy lay among the ferny weeds.
A shell. I seen one like that before.
A conch he called it. He used to blow it and then his mum would come. The whole rhythm of this seems one of transformation—the unliving thing is disentangled and given a new social purpose. As the novel proceeds this meaning becomes more and more sharply defined. Have a meeting. It becomes a symbol of immense suggestiveness. The conch helps both to trace the trajectory of plot, and to establish character.
The answer comes in unequivocal terms: It traces out for us the swift tragic progress of the tale, and condenses its meaning—or so it seems. But will this kind of reading satisfy, when we stop talking about the book from a distance and really look at the texture of the writing and the kind of experience it proffers? What will strike us most immediately is surely that the episode is far too long and circumstantial for any purely symbolic purpose.
The counterpointing of the two boys shows this very clearly. It is Piggy who is first excited by the shell, but only as a curio. Hence the description of fulcrum and lever, weight and resistance; the interest in how the shell is physically disentangled from the weeds. The second half of the scene elaborates the contrast. Now Piggy invents the idea of the meeting, giving the shell a social purpose; but again the life of the passage comes from Ralph, and he is only interested, as any schoolboy would be, in finding out how to blow it.
Again Piggy moves into unison; the shell is primarily an object of play for both of them, and the simple vulgarity of the farting noises fills them with equal delight. The imagination at work is profoundly physical, and what it seizes is, precisely, the sound of the shell. It is made real to us in its context of salt water, brilliant fish, green weed; then in its own strange cream and rose spiral, embossed by an art other than the human; finally in the harsh otherness of the noise which shatters the peace of the island and terrifies bird and beast.
Physical realities come first for Golding and should stay first for his readers. But we must not translate the shell into the signal. What comes out is far from simple; and the human beings will be as taken aback as the animals and for the same reason. If we really look and listen, what we shall see and hear will be the harshness of human self-assertion as well as the signal of human sociability; will be the sound of irresponsibility and childishness as well as of forethought and intelligence; will be the fragility of order as well as the impulse towards it.
Even at this early stage, when the fiction seems to offer itself so alluringly for conceptual analysis, it is always richer and more profound than the thesis we may be tempted to substitute for the experience. In fact, one approach to studying this novel could involve research into the rash of books and articles about male violence, about raising and educating boys. Teachers might ask if or how this story would be different if girls had been on the island. Ralph and Jack are both masculine boys, handsome, fit, strong.
Piggy, on the other hand, is fat, asthmatic, and physically weak. Ralph enters the book first, alone, and develops as the individualist who struggles to maintain some sort of order amid the growing chaos. Piggy is the pivotal character: Not only do his glasses ignite sparks for the signal fire, but it is also he who defines the role of the conch in calling assemblies and he who insists on reminding the other boys over and over again of the world of manners and civility back home.
On the one hand, Piggy offers important reminders of civilized behavior and serves as a strong influence on and later the only support of Ralph in his efforts to keep order. There are very few references to mothers, none to other women such as sisters or grandmothers. Piggy insists on carrying the conch with them, and Ralph wants them to bathe: Golding would not be the first to identify the female with attempts to control or tame male violence; he concludes that the female is unsuccessful because she is too weak, flawed, flesh-bound to overcome the ingenuity, craftiness, and sheer brutality of male violence.
Obviously allegorical, the novel invites the reader to consider the absence of girls as a symbolic presence and the perils of ultramasculinity. Where did it come from? We post-war boys knew perfectly well—it came from them, the enemy, the Germans, those who bombed London—but this was an answer that did not satisfy Golding. He had not only been a naval officer, he had been a schoolmaster, and knew boys. So it could happen here after all.
A party of English schoolchildren are marooned without adults on a coral island. The aircraft in which they were being evacuated from a nuclear war the proof that evil is well-established or ineradicable among adults either crashed or was shot down.
Ralph, an attractive boy with fair hair and physical grace, is elected leader, in part because he has found the conch that calls the children to order and that becomes a symbol of democracy among them: Piggy is first his acolyte and then his guide: Were it not for the intervention of a British naval officer, landing from a warship, at the very end of the book, Ralph would have been killed by Jack and his tribe of followers, who set fire to the entire island in order to flush Ralph out.
They want to act sensibly and responsibly; to build shelters against the rain, to light a fire and keep it going so that the smoke might attract rescuers. But there is no beastie, though an attempt to ward it off by erecting the head of a hunted pig on a pole acts to reinforce the belief in its reality.
Thus a band of British boys, when left to their own devices on an isolated tropical island which, as Ralph points out at the beginning of the book, is a perfectly good island, because it has everything the children need to live comfortably—a Garden of Eden in fact create a polity not very different from the Nazi one: There is evil within me, not because I am special, or specially bad, but because I am a human.
The games we played—good us, bad them—were not true to reality. And in a brilliant moment, Golding captures the fragility of goodness, of the predictable, ordered social existence that I, like all my friends, led.
Piggy knelt, holding the conch. Piggy turned helplessly to Ralph. He then whispers that the beastie comes from the sea. Harcourt St. But Percival Wemys Madison, so sheltered that he is unaware even of the social connotations of his name, ends up among the murderous savages led by Jack. The past can be destroyed. I did not conclude from this that therefore civilization is bogus, for thin as its veneer might be, it is the only thing that protects us from barbarism; rather, its fragility means that it ought to be cherished and defended, while those who claim to despise it on account of its fragility do so either because they do not know how much they rely upon it, or because they are tired of always being civilized and want to revert to savagery.
Originally, this was because he was an outsider, an apparent failure, despised by everyone, as vulnerable as a hermit crab without its shell. It was how I felt at the time. The tribe are ensconced in a natural fort, protected by a large boulder that can be rolled down on anyone who approaches it.
Ralph heard the great rock long before he saw it.
He was aware of a jolt in the earth. Then the monstrous red thing bounded across the neck and he flung himself flat while the tribe shrieked. The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee; the conch [he was holding, the symbol of law and democracy,] exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist.
Piggy, saying nothing, with no time even for a grunt, travelled through the air sideways from the rock, turning over as he went.
The rock bounded twice and was lost in the forest. Piggy fell forty feet and landed on his back across that square, red rock in the sea.
His head opened and stuff came out and turned red. Then the sea breathed again in a long slow sigh, the water boiled white and pink over the rock; and when it went, sucking back again, the body of Piggy was gone. Death is unjust; death is unmerited; death is sudden; above all death is real and final; and yet one has to cope with it, to continue despite its dominion.
That is what the passage taught me, a lesson reinforced by the death of a friend three years after I read Lord of the Flies. Like Piggy he was clever. One day I went to his home after I had been away for two weeks.
His mother answered the door. Michael died last week. In fact, though, my friend had died of his inability to breathe, and his heart gave out. The ambulance refused to come until the controller confirmed with the family doctor that the patient really had asthma, and he died shortly before it arrived.
His death was not unconnected to human failing, the sadistic pleasure of the ambulance controller in his own punctilio. What if my brother died, would my mother say the same thing? I was terrified. How complex, how difficult life was! Literature was the search for the sense of it. It could explain even where it could not change: They were apparently being evacuated—much as English children had been in the early stages of World War II—from England and were being flown to safety in Australia?
He is followed a little later by another boy Piggy , who emerges from more or less the same place and who has evidently been gorging himself on fruit. The two then engage in a contrived conversation about what occurred the previous night. Not in a plane with wheels. Piggy, however, is evidently more realistic and does not agree.
He points out that the plane was under attack and went down in flames, with the cabin of the plane producing the aforementioned scar in the jungle as it crashed. Does all of this make any sense? Not really. There is no detritus of metal, glass, propellers, food, tools, or weapons.
There is simply nothing, not even corpses or body parts. Peculiar too is the circumstance that the plane evidently disappeared into the relatively shallow lagoon protecting the beach side of the island from the sea.
In fact, the storm was evidently not particularly powerful, since none of the trees on either side of the scar appears to have been blown down.
But if the remains of the plane are resting at the bottom of the shallow lagoon, then they should at least be visible from more elevated parts of the island and might possibly even be accessible. Such is, however, evidently not the case, for none of the boys ever mentions seeing the plane or, Robinson Crusoe- like, attempts to retrieve useful items from it.
These remarks obviously negate any supposition that Golding was simply unaware of what he was doing when he placed his boys on the island in so peculiar a manner.
But if it was not an oversight or a blunder, then what? Not Golding, however. One possible answer might be to approach this apparently deliberate mystery from the perspective of the kind of philosophy that was current and most fashionable at the time Lord of the Flies was first published, namely, existentialism.
This existentialist answer to the problems raised by the strange beginning of the novel is admittedly an attractive solution to a difficult problem. The main reason, I believe, is the utopian reason.
Notes 3. On the whole, it seems that the critics have shown rather less curiosity—or irritability, for that matter—in this respect than many high school students , However, it is also made clear in the novel itself that the plane must have been flying in this direction, since it is said to have made two prior stops in Gibraltar and Addis Ababa These futuristic details were eliminated on revision, at the suggestion of Charles Monteith Monteith , Lord of the Flies, The Inheritors, Pincher Martin, The Brass Butterfly, Free Fall, The Spire, The Pyramid, Conversations with William Golding with Jack I.
Biles , The Scorpion God: Three Short Novels, Darkness Visible, Rites of Passage, A Moving Target, The Paper Men, An Egyptian Journal, Close Quarters, Fire down Below, The Double Tongue, Ohio State University Press, Baker disagrees with critics who categorize Lord of the Flies with works of Conrad or Robinson Crusoe.
Similarly, he points out that critics have too readily categorized Golding as being indebted to Christian sources and appearing as a Christian moralist. Instead, he suggests, Golding satirizes both the Christian and rationalist viewpoints. Baker, James R. Ziegler, Jr. Lord of the Flies Casebook Edition. New York: Berkley Publishing Group, The various writings explore psychological, religious, and literary views of the novel and compare the text to earlier Golding works as well as to other novels.
Biles, Jack I. Conversations with William Golding. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. The format involves brief exchanges on topics ranging from a particular character or work by the author to abstract topics like the nature of comedy, evil, and human intelligence.
Evans, eds. William Golding: Some Critical Considerations. The University Press of Kentucky, The editors of this collection of essays assert that William Golding had—by the time of their preparations for the book— successfully established his stature as an author whose work would not diminish over time. Consequently, they determined that another work on the author by a single writer with a single perspective was not necessary and instead invited 14 literary critics to share their assessments.
Crawford, Paul. Politics and History in William Golding: The World Turned Upside Down. Columbia and London: University of Missouri Press,