Lord of the Flies (book review)

by Adalia

*This review spoils the book (under the assumption that most people have already read it—in a high school English class)

Lord of the Flies is one of those books that almost all school children have to read at some point in their educational career (at least after the book was published in 1954). And while the book is a little slow and full of metaphors and imagery the class must discuss, it does send important messages about leadership. For those who don’t know the plot, it begins after a group of schoolboys have crashed onto a remote island, during (what’s assumed to be) World War II. Almost immediately, cliches are formed: between the choir boys, or “hunters,” and everyone else, between the littluns’ and biguns’, between the fat, almost-blind kid, Piggy, and everyone else, and so on. But they are able to come together to vote for a leader and create several basic rules, the most important of which says that when the conch is blown, an assembly has been called, and everyone must meet at the “platform,” which juts out into a lagoon by the edge of the shore. Naturally, this rule doesn’t last. And for a number of reasons, too: the hunters want to hunt pigs, the littluns want to play, only Ralph and Piggy want to keep the rescue fire burning, and, supposedly, there is a beast roaming the island.

The way William Golding weaves figurative language into every aspect of this novel is cunning (it gets the message across and makes students stress over the meaning). Instead of showing the strengths in leadership, Lord of the Flies portrays the weaknesses in humans and our leadership: how easily it can be created and then dismantled, and how much emotions and thoughts impact it. The very ending of the book when a naval officer comes to rescue the boys holds the most irony of the whole story: Ralph had been hoping for an adult to come and save them from all the self-inflicted violence, but the adult who comes has a job that literally centers around…violence.