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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

Lord of the Flies

Author: William Golding
Originally Published: 1954
Publisher: The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Putnam

Lord of the FliesDoes anyone not know what this book is about? Well, if not, it’s about a bunch of school boys who get stranded on a deserted island when their plane crashes. All of the adults on the plane (mainly pilot, crew, etc.) get killed, and it’s up to the kids to fend for themselves and to attempt to get rescued. Ralph is elected as chief, but things soon start to go wrong when the hunters start thinking that hunting is more important than keeping a fire for a smoke signal going. This leads to a great division between the group of boys, a clash of society vs barbarianism if you will. Things keep going downhill, and the hunters have formed their own (terrifying) tribe, which will leads to some terrifying events on the island.

I first read this book back in grade nine. I remember loving it – it had such a huge impact on me, for a number of reasons. I was a lot more impressionable at that age. I had no idea what the story was about, so it completely surprised me. And I was a lot closer in age to the kids in the book, so I think I could empathize with them a little bit better. So this time around, I found it a little bit disappointing. I knew what to expect, so it didn’t hold that shock value to the same extent (a little bit, but I’ll get back to that point later). I’m not nearly as impressionable now (or at least I would like to believe), and I really can’t empathize with any of the characters. It just reminds me of how much books can affect you differently at different times in your life. It’s making me wonder if I would hate the same books now that I did when I first read them in high school. Hmm.

Anyway, shock value! I still found a little bit of it there – I think perhaps parts of it had faded in my memory, so those instances still shocked me. Like the killing of Simon. Heck, like the scene of Simon with the pig’s head. Creepy! Or the hunting of Ralph. But it wasn’t as intense this time around because there were other things that totally stuck out in my mind – like the death of Piggy and the breaking of the conch. It wasn’t such an intense one-shock-after-another experience.

Because it wasn’t such an intense experience this time around, I found it a teensy bit disappointing this time. But because of my experience the first time around, I would still consider this to be a favourite of mine.

What I really did like this time around was seeing the character development, seeing how being stranded on a deserted island had an effect on certain characters. I didn’t remember Ralph’s lapsing ability to be a leader, and that was fascinating. I loved seeing what was happening to Simon. And the boys who turned savage… well, I wouldn’t say that I loved it, but I couldn’t turn away from it. It was like a train wreck…

The Bottom Line: I think this is something everyone should read at least once. It’s scary, but it gives a glimpse of (terribly horrifying) possibilities, and it’s a great piece in the debate as to whether humans are inherently good or evil.

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 9:46 am July 31, 2009.
Category: Classics
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