Lord of the Flies is about a group of young adolescent boys who try to survive on an isolated island after a plane-crash. It is very interesting to see the relationships between the boys, how they immediately take up different positions. In the beginning I was surprised by how organised everything was, considering they are just children. Young and old boys seem to be working together and it seems to be a perfect carefree situation.
At their first meeting one boy Ralph is chosen as the natural leader. Rules and important decisions are made and accepted by everyone. He is kind and understanding of the fears that his fellow students face. He accepts responsibility and delegates "chores" for the other boys to do. They must tend a rescue fire. They must hunt for food. They must tend to the wounded pilot. Ralph chooses the path a responsible adult might. Soon some of the boys become lazy. They do not follow Ralph's rules. These unruly boys are headed by another natural leader, the more "wild" and fun-seeking Jack. Jack and Ralph argue. To maintain control the boys find a large shell... the conch... and whoever holds it has the right to speak. This attempt at order works for a little while but soon Jack dismisses the control the conch holds.
A fight between Ralph, who is the representative of civilisation and Jack, who becomes the leader of forces of anarchy begins on the island. He and his lazy friends split from the original group and leave to another part of the island. They want to their own thing. They defy rules and organisation, which Ralph feels, is the key to survival.
Meanwhile Ralph and his friend Piggy struggle to keep their small group in order. It becomes increasingly difficult to maintain adult responsibility. For the youngest who fear Jack and his clan, Ralph becomes almost their saviour, their security on an island of unknown. Soon Ralph's pack decides they too are tired of rules, and one by one leave to join Jack's ideas of senseless fun. Jack represents abandonment of control, living purely through pleasures. This is where you can form a plethora of metaphors between the two clans of boys. Jack and his bandits become so wild and animal-like near the end that they actually start hunting Ralph in the manner of a real hunt. They have forgotten society, basic humanity, and most of all they have forgotten they were once all friends.
This book is a very good albeit predictable read. From the start I had a pretty good idea how the story line was going to pan out in the end. The character personalities and relationships are clearly discernible right from the start of the book. There are no surprises, as too which group would turn against the ‘system’.
There is discernible intelligent social comment within its pages though. The kind of egotistical behaviour exhibited by Jack, echoes a lot of the back stabbing things you see on TV reality shows and in the government, religion, everywhere in real life. I can also see though, the other side of the coin. Who gave Ralph the right to take the lead in organising the group? Who gives the government that right? By writing this book William Golding shows that he may not be able to discern any difference between the right of governments to rule and the arbitrary rule of a child. What is better, ‘democratic’ anarchy or an orderly dictatorship? Whatever your opinions on this subject, this book is a must read.