Emily May's Reviews > Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
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Mar 20, 14

bookshelves: classics, book-your-brains-out
Read in June, 2005

Kids are evil. Don't you know?

I've just finished rereading this book for my book club but, to be honest, I've liked it ever since my class were made to read it in high school. Overall, Lord of the Flies doesn't seem to be very popular, but I've always liked the almost Hobbesian look at the state of nature and how humanity behaves when left alone without societal rules and structures. Make the characters all angel-faced kids with sadistic sides to their personality and what do you have? Just your average high school drama, but set on a desert island. With a bit more bloody murder. But not that much more.

In 1954, when this book was published, Britain was in the process of being forced to face some harsh realities that it had blissfully chosen to ignore beforehand - that it is not, in fact, the centre of the universe, and the British Empire was not a thing of national pride, but an embarrassing infringement on the freedom and rights of other human beings. Much of British colonialism had been justified as a self-righteous mission to educate and modernise foreign "savages". So when put into its historical context, alongside the decolonisation movements, this book could be said to be an interesting deconstruction of white, Western supremacy.

This is not a tale of "savages" who were raised in poor, rural villages... but a story about upper middle class, privately-educated, silver-spoon boys.

I can understand why some people interpret this book as racist. The racial aspect is a big factor, Golding establishes from the very first page that Ralph is not only white, but WHITE. And Piggy even asks "Which is better - to be a pack of painted niggers like you are or to be sensible like Ralph is?" I'm not going to argue with anyone's interpretation, it would be difficult to say exactly what Golding intended, but I think there is room to see this as the opposite of racism. For me, I always saw it as Golding challenging the notion of savages being dark-skinned, uneducated people from rural areas. With this book, he says screw that, I'll show you savages! and proceeds to show us how these little jewels of the empire are no better for their fancy education and gold-plated upbringing.

I think that seemed especially clear from the ending when the officer says "I should have thought that a pack of British boys - you're all British, aren't you? - would have been able to put up a better show than that." Golding's way of saying that human nature is universal and no one can escape it.

Some readers say that you have to have quite a negative view of human nature already to appreciate this book, but I don't think that's true. I'm not sure I necessarily agree with all the implications running around in the novel - namely, the failure of democracy and the pro-authority stance - but it serves as an interesting look at the dark side of human nature and how no one is beyond its reach. Plus, anyone who had a bit of a rough time in high school will probably not find the events in this book a huge leap of the imagination.

The fascinating thing about Lord of the Flies is the way many historical parallels can be drawn from the messages it carries. You could choose to view the charismatic and manipulative Jack Merridew as a kind of Hitler (or other dictator) who takes advantage of a group of people at their weakest. Dictators and radicals often find it easy to slip in when a society is in chaos... we do not have to assume that Golding believed that everyone everywhere is evil, only that we all have the capacity for it when we find ourselves in unstable situations.

Still a fascinating book after all these years.
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Comments (showing 1-34 of 34) (34 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Ha ha


message 2: by Luna (new)

Luna Lacour Fantastic review, Emily!


Emily May Thanks, Luna :)


Nenia *Genghis Khan soaked in sherbet* More books need to be written about adolescents going on killing sprees. :)


Emily May Nenia, you should totally write that :D


Nenia *Genghis Khan soaked in sherbet* Well, I already have one series kind of like that...

BUT YES. ONE MORE COULDN'T POSSIBLY HURT! >:D


Nenia *Genghis Khan soaked in sherbet* P.S. Who was your favorite character?

(view spoiler)


Lisa I read this in 2002 for school.. I am dying to read it again this year!


Emily May Nenia wrote: "P.S. Who was your favorite character?

[spoilers removed]"


True. Your books are keeping readers supplied with sadistic young people XD When are your new books coming out?

Oh yeah, Simon was always my favourite. By far.


Emily May Lisa wrote: "I read this in 2002 for school.. I am dying to read it again this year!"

Hope it doesn't disappoint! I liked it even better the second time around :)


message 11: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa Emily May wrote: "Lisa wrote: "I read this in 2002 for school.. I am dying to read it again this year!"

Hope it doesn't disappoint! I liked it even better the second time around :)"


I remember loving it. Hardly anyone else in the class finished in (unappreciative 14 year olds..) but they were missing out. I may do this soon, I think.


Nenia *Genghis Khan soaked in sherbet* Emily May wrote: "Nenia wrote: "P.S. Who was your favorite character?

[spoilers removed]"

True. Your books are keeping readers supplied with sadistic young people XD When are your new books coming out?

Oh yeah, S..."


One of them actually got banned from Amazon! Wheee, I'm a banned book author now! At 24! *WOOT*

One came out early this month. I have another one coming out at the end of March/early April, depending on how fast I can get my lazy bum in gear. ^_^

Simon was such a sweetie. A crazy sweetie, but a sweetie nonetheless. (view spoiler)

Have you read Beauty Queens by Libba Bray? It's like an all-female version of LotF, except with not as much death and interesting and uplifting values!


Emily May Haha! Brilliant... which one got banned?

I didn't realise they'd been released!! Just bought Bleeds My Desire to see if I like this whole dark erotica thing... if so, I'll check out Tantalized :)

And yeah, I have. I read it as soon as it came out - how could I resist that description? Hehe. I really liked it!


Nenia *Genghis Khan soaked in sherbet* I always find Libba Bray's books so refreshing. I don't always like them, but I love that she tries so hard to be daring and original in a market that's overrun with the derivative (had to try like 20 times to spell this word) and the trite.

Terrorscape was the one that was banned. And yay! I feel so honored. Hope you like BMD! But if not, I think I'll still love you anyway. :)


Emily May I cannot agree enough. I often end up loving it when an author tries something different, it's a nice break in the monotony.

Haha, thanks! I already know I like your writing from Fearscape but I have no idea if this kind of story will be my "thing". We shall see :)


Nenia *Genghis Khan soaked in sherbet* I remember! There was much flailing and biting of nails when I saw you reading it. I'm glad you liked it! (Whew!) xD

Some of my favorite authors are the ones who are totally all over the place. Like Vivian Vande Velde--she's written everything from vampire romance to historical fiction to cyberpunk to horror, and I've loved everything she's ever written. (It kills me that she's not more popular than she is; her writing is amazing, and her female characters are bad-ass. You might like her, actually!)




message 17: by Tandie (new)

Tandie Great review Emily. If I were grading your report, you'd earn an A!


Emily May Thanks, Tandie!


Achetski Acket (seeker of souls) i actually rather enjoyed "lord of the flies"


message 20: by Vavita (new) - added it

Vavita Great review! I saw the movie and I've had the book on my to-read list for a long time. I hope I can get the chance to read it soon.


message 21: by Francis Ann (new) - added it

Francis Ann I just bought this book and I'm dying to read it! Thanks for your great review for I have liked the book more! It sounds like it's much like Orwell's Animal Farm, well, is it? :)


message 22: by Eden (new) - rated it 5 stars

Eden great book!


Emily May @Vavita Thank you! :)

@Francis Ann No problem! Interesting question. Both books make very strong moral/political statements about humanity but the execution is very different. I look forward to seeing what you think :)


message 24: by Dave (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dave "Plus, anyone who had a bit of a rough time in high school will probably not find the events in this book a huge leap of the imagination."
This is EXACTLY why I loved this book. I was a constant target of bullying. It was my favorite among the required readings back in high school.


Emily May Dave wrote: ""Plus, anyone who had a bit of a rough time in high school will probably not find the events in this book a huge leap of the imagination."
This is EXACTLY why I loved this book. I was a constant ta..."


I had a similar experience, Dave, which is possibly why I also enjoyed this book a lot more than many of my classmates. It made a lot of sense to me.


Lorena Rodriguez wait, so.. when Simon finds the head.. I get lost.. what is the beast? Who is speaking? The Lord of the Flies like, really..? Or what? ...I'm confused


jamila très bien


message 28: by Cassidy (new) - added it

Cassidy Ammorette I hated this book.


Syed Ali Rizvi couldn't have put it better...fantastic review !!


Emily May Thank you!


message 31: by Catalina (new) - added it

Catalina maybe next time try using "n*ggers or the n-word" instead...


Emily May Catalina wrote: "maybe next time try using "n*ggers or the n-word" instead..."

Why? It's a direct quote from the book.


message 33: by Catalina (new) - added it

Catalina it's common sense, you're a white girl, it makes people uncomfortable.


Emily May I'm not the one using it, I'm quoting the author. Progress will not be made by pretending racism didn't and doesn't exist (or sexism, or homophobia); we need to acknowledge it, call it out, and criticize it.

Also, why would the use of an "*" instead of an "i" make any damn bit of difference?


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