Lord of THe Flies: Defects of Society Due to Nature of Individuals


The venturesome novel, Lord of the Flies, is an enchanting,
audacious account that depicts the defects of society as the incorrigible nature
of individuals when they are immature and without an overlooking authority. The
author of the novel, William Golding, was born in Britain, which accounts for
the English, cultured characters in the novel. After studying science at Oxford
University for two years, he changed his emphasis as a major to English
literature. When World War II broke out in 1939, Golding served in the Royal
Navy for five years. The atrocities he witnessed changed his view about
mankind\'s essential nature. He came to believe that there was a very dark and
evil side to man, which accounts for the savage nature of the children in the
novel. He said, "The war was unlike any other fought in Europe. It taught us
not fighting, politics, or the follies of nationalism, but about the given
nature of man." After the war he returned to teaching and wrote his first novel,
Lord of the Flies, which was finally accepted for publication in 1954. In 1983,
the novel received the Noble Prize and the statement, "[His] books are very
entertaining and exciting. . . . They have aroused an unusually great interest
in professional literary critics (who find) deep strata of ambiguity and
complication in Golding\'s work. . . ." (Noble Prize committee) Some conceived
the novel as bombastic and didactic. Kenneth Rexroth stated in the Atlantic,
"Golding\'s novels are rigged.. . . The boys never come alive as real boys. . . .
" Other critics see him as the greatest English writer of our time. In the
Critical Quarterly in 1960, C.B. Cox deemed Lord of the Flies as "probably the
most important novel to be published. . . in the 1950\'s."
The setting of the novel takes place on an island in the Pacific Ocean.
The author never actually locates the island in the real world or states the
exact time period. The author does state that the plane carrying the children
had been shot down in a nuclear war, so the time period must be after the making
and the use of nuclear weapons. Even though the location of the island is not
definite, the author vividly describes the setting. Golding tells us that the
island is tropical and shaped like a boat. At the low end are the jungle and the
orchards, which rise up to the treeless and rocky mountain ridge. The beach,
called the scar, is near the warm water lagoon. On the scar, where the boys
hold their meetings, is a "natural platform of fallen trees." Far away is the
fruit orchards which supply the boys with food. Inland from the lagoon is the
jungle with pig trails and hanging vines. The island has a mountain that Ralph,
Simon, and Jack climb, and from which they are able to see the terrain. Finally,
there is the castle at the other end of the island, which rises a hundred feet
above the sea and becomes Jack\'s headquarters. Golding gives us a very strong
sense of place, and the setting shapes the story\'s direction. At the outset the
boys view the island as a paradise because it is lush and abundant with food. As
the fear of the beast grows, however, it becomes a hell in which fire and fear
prevail. Even though Golding does not clearly state the setting, a mental
picture of the island is depicted throughout the novel.
The plot of the story begins when a group of British students\' plane is
shot down, and they crash on a tropical island. Ralph and Piggy are the first
characters introduced, and they find a white conch shell. Ralph blows on the
conch, and the other boys appear. Among them are Jack, Sam, Eric, Simon, and
many other boys who are never given names. The group elects Ralph as their
leader. When the conch calls again, they talk about a small boy\'s fear of a
snakelike beast in the woods. Is there really such a beast? The boys can not
agree. Ralph convinces everyone that they need a fire for a signal in case a
ship passes the island, but the boys find it hard work keeping the fire going.
Jack decides he no longer wants to be part of Ralph\'s group because he would
rather hunt than worry about keeping the fire burning. He leaves with everyone
except Ralph, Piggy, Sam,