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Lord of the Flies
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,
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Lord of the Flies, William Golding
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