Book 30: Lord of the Flies.
I think most young adults in the United States were forced to read Lord of the Flies sometime in their school career. I feel for them, because I never had to. For some unknown reason, I never “had” to read this book and I never felt any real desire to pick it up on my own in high school either.
With that being said, I know the jist of the story fairly well. After all, since most American teens are forced to read this (Yes, I am using the word “force”), I was the minority all throughout college when the book was referenced, just like I was when Of Mice and Men was talked about (nope, never read that either). Thus, I felt like I had to at least acquaint myself with the book so I at least knew the story. I even went out and bought a copy.
Then I started reading. I got 30 pages in, determined it was stupid, threw it at the wall, and moved on with my life.
I still have my copy. One corner is bent pretty badly from hitting the wall.While I do believe that we should be reading more of the classics in general, I hate that certain titles are thrown down the throats of American high schoolers. As an educator, I am a big proponent of choices in the classroom. When it came time for me to assign projects during my student teaching and when I taught history last year, I always offered options. I personally don’t think it is right to assume that every student will like everything I do, so I try and vary assignments accordingly. I have always said that when I do have my own classroom and I am teaching English, I will most certainly offer choices. Taking into account that there is a specific canon I need to teach, I will do while offering my students choices about the books they are expected to read.
I am sure that most of us can remember a time when we were told to read a book that we absolutely hated. I can also go on a rant here about finding suitable books for age groups. For example, I read Great Expectations when I was 13 for school. Even though I was in the advanced English class, I had no idea what the book was about and hated that it was forced down my throat. I was too young to understand it.
Lord of the Flies is commonly taught at that same age, or a year older. Do you think it is really possible for every 13 and 14 year old to understand the significance of this book? Sure, I bet a handful will “Get it,” but most won’t. Especially since in most districts you don’t learn about the fear of the Cold War and the threat of nuclear holocaust until a year or two after that. It doesn’t make sense.
Anyway, I suppose I am trying to say that even though I haven’t read this book from cover to cover yet, we already have a lot of history together. It should be interesting, and hopefully eye-opening to finally read it. Perhaps my opinions will change…
Interesting. I actually *chose* to read this one when I was in seventh grade. Granted, it was on the “acceptable choices” list but it wasn’t truly assigned to me. And I absolutely loved it. I still have my copy. And I have tried to re-read it in later years (because seventh grade was a very long time ago for me) but have never been able to because the minute I open that first pag, I can still see the image at the end (I could be more specific but I won’t ruin it for you). The book is truly horrifying but boy did it have sticking power for me so I guess I’d argue that I did “get it” even at that young age.
I had to read it as a class assignment in high school. Most of the kids hated it, but I didn’t. Even though it’s really disturbing, I loved the way the author used words and his descriptions of the characters and setting were so vivid it really pulled me in. It’s still one of my favorite books, for that reason. The real impact of the story didn’t really sink in for me until I read it again later.
When I was 10 I had a huge crush on Lance who was a family friend and 22. He gave me the book for Christmas one year so of course to impress him I read it. It to this day is still my all time favorite book. And no, not because of the crush. When I turned 12 I realized he was disgustingly old.
Review: “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding
…”Suddenly, pacing by the water, he was overcome with astonishment. He found himself understanding the wearisomeness of this life, where every path was an improvisation and a considerable part of one’s waking life was spent watching one’s feet. He stopped, facing the strip, and remembering that first enthusiastic exploration as though it were part of a brighter childhood, he smiled jeeringly.”(from Lord of the Flies, page 76).
William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, published in 1954, is another book added to my “better late than never” list. The Girl (age 12) read this book in her reading class just before school ended and loved it, so she insisted I needed to read it, too. (She was thoughtful to gush about it with no spoilers, but that meant she was saying “Hurry up and finish it already” to me about every five minutes! I wish I could’ve included more of her thoughts in this review, but with rugby, summer camp, and summer reading, she’s been extremely busy. She did tell me that she’d rate it a 4.5/5 though.)
The novel is about a group of British schoolboys stranded on an uninhabited island after their plane is shot down during a war. The plane crash and the immediate aftermath are not described; the book opens with two of the boys, Ralph and Piggy, discovering a lagoon, fishing a conch shell out of the water, and using it to call a gathering of the other survivors.
Once joined by the charismatic Jack and his fellow choirboys/followers, Ralph is elected chief and attempts to create some sort of order to ensure their survival and rescue. Ralph and Jack butt heads about what needs to be done; Ralph thinks a fire and smoke signal are most important so they can be rescued, while Jack is focused on hunting wild pigs for meat.
Without adults, the boys adopt a carefree attitude, swimming, playing, eating fruit, and much to Ralph’s dismay, ignoring the fire and refusing to help build shelters. It’s not long before fear of an unseen “beast” and a thirst for power threaten the order Ralph has tried so hard to maintain.
Lord of the Flies is well written, although I admit I was bored by the endless descriptions of the island’s topography and quite glad each time the narrative shifted back to the interactions between the boys. While several of the boys are named (and many more are not), the novel focuses mainly on Ralph, the voice of reason; Piggy, a symbol of wisdom and humanity, despite his outcast status and weaknesses; Jack, strong and charismatic but also the most primal; and Simon, the protector of the youngest boys on the island. Golding did a great job making the characters interesting and unique and showing how the different, strong personalities clashed.
From what I’d heard about this book over the years, I expected it to be dark, but I had no idea how sinister and even shocking it would be! I also didn’t expect it to be so thought-provoking, so full of symbolism, and so eerily believable. I especially love how a book this deep is geared toward young adults; The Girl enjoyed telling me what they’d talked about in class, and I can’t remember her ever dissecting a book so thoroughly before.
Lord of the Flies is not for the faint of heart. There are gruesome, brutal scenes that cause you to think long and hard about human nature. It’s a novel about the loss of innocence and humanity, how easy it could be for people to revert to a wild, savage state without an authority figure and the confines of society. Golding also shows how power can be misused and how order can easily turn into chaos. It’s not the kind of adventure novel I was expecting, and I wasn’t completely satisfied with the ending, but it’s a novel that will haunt me for a very long time.
by Anna (Diary of an Eccentric)-http://diaryofaneccentric.wordpress.com
SOME COMMENTS FROM ANNA’S BLOG
1.Excellent review, Anna. This was one of my favorite novels to teach when I was teaching. I just loved all of the symbolism and how complex this book is. It is kind of scary how little it takes of humans to resort to savagery.
2.I never expected the book to be that deep. I’m glad I was wrong!
3.I’ve never read this book but have always wondered about it because of what I heard about it. I know if I read it, it would haunt me for a long time too.
4.I knew so little about the book going into it; I think that made it more shocking.
5.Despite its disturbing nature, this has always been one of my favorite books. I just find the characterization of the boys so vivid. When I first read it as a teen a lot of the symbolism and violent implications were kind of over my head- but re-reads make it sink in more .
6.I definitely can see myself re-reading it down the road. Golding does make the characters come to life, at least the main ones. The others who are named but don’t have a major role just faded into the background for me.
7.I read this book a long time ago, and though I’ve long forgotten the details, what stuck with me was how upset (even a bit frightened) I felt while reading it. I ran the gamut of emotions, but mostly I was just shocked.
8.I bought a copy of Lord some time back intending to reread it, but I never did reread it and totally forgot I owned it. I first read it ages ago but I remember the brutality that you mentioned. The movie, and I think there have been several versions made since the book, the movie I saw was just as horrific as the book. And yet, I want to revisit it
9.I watched the black & white movie version right after I finished it. We watched both movies in class, but i didn’t like the newer one because it was different from the book.
10.I read this one in a sophomore English class and I absolutely adored it. It was one of those formative books when I was growing up. I really wish I’d read it ages ago…but better late than never.
11.I can’t tell you how long this has been on my list to read someday and I should really just get to it. I’m glad both you and The Girl liked it – makes me want to read it even more.
12 I think it’s worth carving out some time to read…it’s actually pretty short.
13.Excellent review, Anna. I read this in middle school, and it still haunts me. I really need to reread it soon. We have a copy of the book around, and I am determined to pick it up and read it again, as an adult.
14.I was thinking of this book the other day. i read it ages ago and enjoyed it very much. Probably started me on my fascination with dystopian stories. What would i do?
15.It really does get you thinking about how you’d act in that situation. Such a scary thought.
16.I’ve had this on my shelved for awhile but finally put it on my shortstack 🙂
17.I need to read this one yet, perhaps for banned book week.
18I reread this one just a few years ago and remembered why I loved it as a teen. Yes, it is visceral and dark and just such a great study of human nature. I can’t wait for my son to have to read it, so we can discuss it together!
19.This is another of those favorite books of mine, and I’m so glad that she read it. And that you did too!
20I read this one so long ago, that I think I need a refresher! Loving that you and The Girl are reading books and talking about them!! She’s a
21.I haven’t read this since high school but sometimes I think I need to revisit it and see it from an adult’s perspective. Great review!
22.I’ve been meaning to read that book for ages, but somehow never seem to get to it. This summer, I was thinking about “assigning” it to my teenage DD to read. She’s supposed to read 3 books of our choosing, but I’m having such a hard time narrowing it down to just 3 books.
23.My daughter only had to read 2 summer reading books, her choice so long as they have a Lexile number of 750 or higher.
COMMENTS FROM OTHER BLOGS (http://fromisi.wordpress.com/)
24.It indeed is a book that can trigger a lot of discussion. I did not finish this book I was done after 50 pages. You probably wrote it right saying you do not want to think we are like those boys. Great review!
25. I saw your review on Goodreads. The beginning is a little bit slow, it’s true, but well, later it has more action (violence). Anyway, I didn’t love it; I wouldn’t recommend, just if you want to read a classic.
26.This would be a great one for a book club discussion wouldn’t it?? I haven’t read this since..oh wow, since the beginning of time I think.
27.Yes, this is the kind of classic that you are supposed to read, but well, it’s interesting but it’s not a book you will love.
28.like it! I’m sure it’s the type of book that would be interesting to discuss with a group, though.
29.Yes, it is not a book you get hooked on if you don’t agree with the premise… but it’s interesting anyway!
30.This book is used in pretty much every psychology class here in America. I don’t know how many times we’ve had the human nature discussion in various classes. I’m sorry that you didn’t like it but it DOES expose the dark side of people 😉
31. Yes, I suppose it is the kind of book to talk about human nature. The thing didn’t convince me is that he says that all the people have this dark side, so aren’t there good people? this is what surprised me.
32. And that is the question for millions of psychologists all around the world!
33.I think that it’s scary how the boys didn’t feel guilty, but to me, it brings up the concept of group-think. How the group thinks one thing and then everyone just follows because the group does it. That’s scary.
34.Also, the boys didn’t have a chance to even make amends because (SPOILER ALERT) when they were rescued, the guy just thought they were being kids. He didn’t even give them a chance to explain any of the things that happened (like murder).
35. Yes, I would like to know what would have happened if the man hadn’t gone to rescue, because I can’t believe that everybody could feel comfortable in a group like that. But that’s why I think that it brings up a lot of questions. Anyway, hope humankind is not as bad as those children.
36. I think the story seems to be saying it is, though. It all boils down to human nature: are we inherently good or bad creatures?
37. I think that could be somebody bad, but that we are born to be good, in general
38. I think it has its popularity by brining up the question about human nature, but that actually it was a little bit wrong.
39. I read this for an exam too, and didn’t like it much. All I remember is it being quite horrible (though we were probably too young to really appreciate it). I think I know who the boy who represented religion was, though I wouldn’t have known it without you saying it was there. The silent boy? First I would’ve said Piggy, but he was more about injustice I’d say.
40.Rebecca’s point is really good, the part she’s labelled spoiler. The rescue had quite a bit of a role in how things turned out and in hampering what ‘ought’ to have happened (this is both good and bad). The religious boy was Simon, the one who dies because the others think he is “the beast”… but I didn’t see the religion anywhere.I have heard that this book is recommended in schools in Britain and the States, but I agree with you and I don’t think this is a book for children. And yes, with that end the author seems to don’t dare to go further in his theory.
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