A bunch of boys get stranded on an uninhabited island sans any adult. ‘Lord of the Flies’ begins its story from here. Boys of all age groups, toddlers and adolescents, assemble on the sound of a blowing conch from Ralph. They elect Ralph as leader because ‘the being that had blown that (conch), had sat waiting for them on the platform with the delicate thing balanced on this knees, was set apart.’ Seeds of rivalry are sown early in the novel as this election disheartens the more ambitious Jack. Jack gradually builds his own team and rebels against Ralph. Two factions are formed amongst the boys: Jack’s team of boys who want to hunt and have fun, and Ralph’s team of those who want to keep alive a fire so that they are rescued. Piggy, a fat boy who is a sharp thinker but is physically weaker than the others, is a central character in the novel. He is shown as the voice of reason- someone who counsels Ralph and possesses a strong revulsion for Jack.
Ralph gets isolated completely by the end of the novel as his boys cross over to John’s faction out of a need to belong to the stronger clan. Only Piggy stays with him till the end, trying to make the others see reason, trying to convince them to keep the fire alive.
The novel narrates the lives of these boys in this island- their attitude towards this entrapment, internal squabbles, power struggles, and their adaptation to a life of complete freedom in a place where the rules of civilization and society do not apply. William Golding explores child psyche meticulously to show us the ugly face of innocence. These boys do not fully comprehend the implication of their actions. Led by their immediate passions the boys create amongst themselves a primeval society of lawlessness and anarchy. Loot, betrayal, and murder are committed without any sense of guilt- in barbarous innocence. With no adult to command righteousness, these children fail to recognize or practice integrity, logic, modesty, and compassion. Golding shows us how children, freed from parental or social control, seize to be what they are made out to be- innocent and guileless.
William Golding’s writing style is quite intense. He uses the third person form to convey a sense of immediacy, tension and drama in his story. Golding is very convincing while forming the speech patterns of the children in his story. Piggy, who is a nervous child, speaks in half sentences and in uncertain short bursts. Ralph, a natural leader on the other hand, uses short definitive sentences to communicate.
I read this book during my graduation and was profoundly moved by its multi-layered implications. Particularly somber, to me, was the plight of Piggy, who suffers because he is not physically strong or shrewd enough to survive a savage society.
This book made a very strong impression on me during my college days. It is one of those rare books which compel you to keep thinking about its message long after the book has been read.
Book Reviewed by Ashmita Saha
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