October 2, 2009

Rabid Reads for BBW: "Lord of the Flies" by William Golding


Title: Lord of the Flies
Author: William Golding
Publisher: Penguin (1954)
Pages: 192
ISBN 0140283331
isbn 13: 9780140283334


Note: In 1988, the board of education in Toronto, Ontario was asked to remove this classic story from reading lists in schools because of "racial slurs" within the story. Similar complaints have been levied against Golding's novel everywhere, and while it's been banned in many places, Toronto demonstrated the rationality to resist the presuure to ban the book.

This, like To Kill a Mockingbird, is a novel I read in high school. Unlike, Mockingbird, I didn't particularly enjoy the book. I didn't hate it, mind you, but it was a book I kind of glossed over back in the day. I should read it again some time, I suppose, to see if I may enjoy it more--I've read several reviews from people who have reread it and enjoyed it less, though.

The story is gold, no matter what you have to say about Golding's literary merits. Take a gaggle of school boys, plunk them down on a deserted island, and just sit back and watch the carnage. Some people decry the plausibility of the whole premise, the assertion that humans are basically savage in lue of an authority figure. I'm not so quick to dismiss it because I still remember what it was like to be a little boy. While the story could have played out quite differently had a female character or two been included, little boys can be brutally savage in nature when left to their own devices.

The characters as I recall, and reinforced by parodies and criticisms, were fairly two-dimensional and propped up as much on archetypal traits as the story hinged on a presupposed notion on humanity's darker side. To look back on the story now, what I remember most is Piggy's glasses being used to start the fires and eventually destroyed. And poor Piggy's demise at the hands of Jack and his squad of disciples. Grizzly, and a little poignant to a teen familiar with bullying.

It's the ending that's always faded into a gray ether for me. What does that say about a story? If I remember correctly, they're rescued by the adults and in record time revert back to their school-boy deferential ways. But there is an innocence lost in all of them and life back in civilization will never be the same.

Actually, come to think of it, I could go for a sequel to this story. Did anyone try that? I doubt Golding bothered, since he told the tale he set out to tell, but I'd be interested to see a quality author taking a crack at exploring these characters when they're brought back home.

Hey, Chuck Palahniuk. Get on that, will ya?

2 comments:

Bella said...

Oh gosh I have monster-size trauma thinking about this book. I read it in school and hated it and have never been able to contemplate reading it again.

Definitely no reason to ban it though. There a lot of people out there that have enjoyed Lord of the Flies.

Rabid Fox said...

Indeed. Reading other reviews for this book I was actually surprised to see so much negativity towards it. It's not a favorite of mine, but some people really resented reading it in school, I guess.

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