Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Lord of the Flies is a classic novel taking place during some massive war. An evacuation plane crashes on an uninhabited island and the only survivors are a group of young boys. The book covers the boys' attempts to organize and govern themselves.

The boys struggle to maintain order. Power struggles take place that divide them against eachother, many lose the desire to pursue rescue and instead choose to take part in disturbing ritualistic behaviors. The boys descend into savagery as the protagonist struggles to maintain an orderly society.

I love how believable the various disturbing acts are, I'd attribute that to some good character writing that taps into a deep understanding of the fundamentally savage nature of humanity that is concealed by the presence of civilisation. The believability of the characters' actions makes you wonder if you are capable of the same.

Overall this book is a must read, its not too challenging to understand but still communicates meaningful themes and interesting ideas with its very well executed writing. No wonder it is commonly read in school. The entry-level difficulty offers a taste of what good writing is like for those who have yet to sink deep into literature, but still offers a lot to those who have.


The slow descent from a civilized order to violent savagery is portrayed brilliantly. Ralph discovers a conch, which he uses to gather everyone together after the crash. The conch and Ralph then serve as the foundation of their order, a social center if you will. The conch is regarded with some sacrality because of its utility in organizing the boys. Ralph, as the one capable of using the conch is then regarded highly as a leader. But over time the uncivilized nature of the boys becomes apparent as they disregard their signal fire and shelter building duties in favor of doing more "fun" things like hunting and "dancing".

A general sense of disorder feeds into making the rituals, deaths, and hunting chase scene all the more shocking and the tension even stronger. I Loved that power struggle between jack and Ralph, it was pretty tense all the way through, especially when ralph slowly began to give in to savagery.

The role of Jack's character was brilliant, his appeal to the boys' paranoia regarding the island and its beast is expertly used to turn them into uncivilized savages, fear is a gateway to violence in this sense. I liked the detail of Jack's tribe using the rituals of face painting and "dancing" as a something to obfuscate and distract from their obviously immoral actions.

Simon's imaginary discussion with the sacrificial pig's head may not be very subtle but it is effective nonetheless. This symbol of savagery reveals to him that the beast of the island is just a manifestation of the savagery in all the boys. The paranoia about the beast is the fear that the boys' own savagery will be their downfall. Simon realizes that he is in great danger as his compassion represents civilisation, an enemy of the uncivilized tribe. He discovers that what the kids thought was a beast was just them interpreting the dead body of a parachutist on the island through their paranoia. He rushes to tell everyone. The other kids are caught in a ritualistic dance and in their frenzy end up slaughtering Simon, thinking he is the beast. A beacon of truth and order has been disposed of to the affirmation of savagery.

In a rebellion against Ralph's orderly power structure, Jack's tribe rationalizes that the real object of power on the island is Piggy's glasses, not the conch. They steal the glasses, forcing Ralph and Piggy to confront them over it. This confrontation results in the ultimate and final rejection of order, the tribe kills Piggy and shatters the conch with him. Ralph escapes alone with no followers left.

Ralph, with no power left ends up being hunted ritualistically by Jack's tribe, he learns that one of them has a stick which is sharpened on both ends, indicating that they intend to behead him and mount his head like the sacrificial pig's head. The scene where Ralph stares down the skull that Simon found the flies on is so powerful, especially once he grabs that spear to start defending himself, changing it from a symbol of savagery to one of a climactic last stand for order. In the end the remaining boys finally encounter an adult. In the presence of an orderly figure they immediately realize what they've done and lament their own tragic loss of innocence.

The book explores the idea that within us there is an eternal conflict between the imperatives toward civilization and the desire for the experience of power through savagery. Humanity is kept in check by the presence of civilization, but within us is the capacity for great savagery. This profoundly points to a christian anthropology, where human existence is a constant struggle to be morally good in spite of our inherently sinful nature.