The book: Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
The edition: Faber&Faber centenary edition paperback, 225 pages, plus introduction by Stephen King
The story: a group of boys is stranded on an island during a nuclear war. Left to their own devices, they enjoy the tropical paradise by day, but at night they start to discover their darkest sides (fear of the dark, blood thirst, desire for power) and little by little they recede from civilization into savagery.
My experience with the book & my thoughts: I feel like I was the only one in the world not having read this, so here I won’t go into what the book is or isn’t, into its good and bad. Suffice to say that I found it well written and horrifying. (See links below for better opinions than mine.)
Instead, I’ll tell you about my reaction — that is what classics are for, right? And I do have strong feelings about this novel: either the author had a very “wrong” (from my point of view, that is) view of life, or males and females are so deeply different that they cannot really hope to communicate. (I do hope it’s the first, because I seem to communicate just fine with my husband, my father and male friends.)
According to Stephen King (in the introduction), this is a story “about how kids really are”. But all I see in the novel itself is that kids are inherently evil:
Roger stooped, picked up a stone, aimed, and threw it at Henry— threw it to miss. The stone, that token of preposterous time, bounded five yards to Henry’s right and fell in the water. Roger gathered a handful of stones and began to throw them. Yet there was a space round Henry, perhaps six yards in diameter, into which he dare not throw. Here, invisible yet strong, was the taboo of the old life.
This is an idea that I cannot buy into. Are kids inherently evil? Are human beings inherently evil? If that was so, humanity would have disappeared long ago, even before a civilization appeared to block those instincts. And in my experience they are not. They are not inherently good either, mind you.
Then again, my experience is somewhat limited. I grew up in a preponderantly female environment. So, while I know it’s preposterous, the only other explanation I can come up with for this book is the following: could boys be inherently evil (as opposed to girls)? I don’t think that’s the point, but I’ll have to ask husband 😉
In the meanwhile, what do you think? If you have read this book, how did you react?
Links to better understand this book:
Counts as: What’s in a Name – creepy crawly; Back to the Classics – 20th century; Summer 2012 – book I’ve always wanted to read