Over the course of the last 2 years, I have read several books that have moved me in several different ways. Either they push me to the brink of rib-piercing laughter – or they make my face sag with a frown of sadness – or they render me paralyzed with fear when my favorite character suddenly finds himself or herself in a serious predicament.
In a similar vein, there are books that occasionally set my neurons ablaze and stimulate the juices in my head to intensely ponder over what I just experienced – and one such book just so happens to be William Golding’s ‘Lord Of The Flies’.
‘Lord of the Flies’ tells the story of a group of boys who land up on a remote island in the middle of nowhere after their plane crashes.
With not a single adult in the vicinity to rally them up and get them rescued, a young lad by the name of Ralph – and the other surviving boys – band together and decide to take matters into their own hands and figure out a way to get off the island.
Soon after they land up on this desolate rock, on finding a conch (a fancy term for a sea shell) near the shore with the help of Piggy (another young lad), Ralph is automatically flung into a position of high leadership – as all the other boys vote to make him chief of the group.
This upsets a young boy by the name of Jack, who disagrees with Ralph on several pertinent issues throughout the tale.
For example, while Ralph believes that keeping a fire lit at the top of the mountain to produce enough smoke so that a ship can detect them is of top priority, Jack’s fascination for hunting pigs leaves him devoid of any form of rationality or common sense.
Yes, little Jack wants to hunt pigs instead of being rescued. Somebody needs to find this kid’s parents and have a talk with them.
Soon enough, the boys find themselves pitted against each other, and that is when their short-lived society slowly deteriorates into anarchy.
And here we stumble upon what is the prevalent theme of the book – and that is the boys’ constant struggle to retain their humanity. With no adult to guide or supervise them, some of them quickly have their minds drowned in savagery, most notably Jack, whose constant urge to hunt and spill blood takes precedence over trying to get off the island. Ralph quickly finds his position of leadership in turmoil, as Jack rallies up the boys to side with him, and see things from his view.
“They walked along, two continents of experience and feeling unable to communicate.”Lord Of The Flies
The novel is an allegory of what being disconnected from society and the real world can do to the human mind. Back in England, these boys would never dare to resort to such fiendish acts – but on an island which seems far away from the fabrics of time and reality, all forms of pragmatism and common sense fade and give way to man’s more primal desires.
With no one to shame or judge man, man is free to resort to becoming an animal, because there are no longer consequences. The lust for power, the lust for war, the lust for blood – all these thoughts permeate through the boys one by one till finally, only the toughest of minds (or mind, I’m not going to give that away) were able to retain their sanity by the end.
Lord Of The Flies
“Which is better–to have laws and agree, or to hunt and kill?”
My takeaway from the book is this – sometimes there is no benefit in thinking straight. What does one get from being rational when the entire fabric of rationality fades before you? You get to save face amongst an army of savages – is that really worth it? When life brings you to a point which seems bleak and dire, and to a point of no escape,what do the laws and rules of society matter anymore? Rules, laws, society – all this keeps us from succumbing to the power of the savage within each and every one of us.
Lord Of The Flies
“Maybe there is a beast… maybe it’s only us.”
This book will have you think a lot once you read it. And I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to read a classic and is ok with a bit of a dark theme (there is blood and death, and some of you may not be okay with all that).
Unless you’ve read it already? What was your takeaway from this book? Did it move you in a similar way? Drop a comment and let me know.