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Lord of the Flies



What dominates in human nature: good or evil? Is the human being a good creature with some dark shades or is he an evil creature capable of some goodness? Is the darkness that pervades the cosmos [85%, according to science] a symbol of the darkness within the human heart? William Golding would answer ‘yes’ to that.

His novel, Lord of the Flies, tells the story of some children aged 6 to 12 to show that evil is intrinsic to human nature. The children are marooned on an uninhabited island because of a plane crash. The plane was evacuating some schoolchildren during the ongoing war and it was shot down. Some children escape miraculously. What do they do on the island where there are no adults to supervise them?

Ralph emerges as a leader with civilised ideas on how to run a society. He tries to implement law and order among the children. Piggy, the intellectual, and Simon, the saint, are of great assistance in the process. But the human society does not belong to the philosopher-king, the intellectual and the saint. Far from it. It belongs to politicians. And they are ruthless.

Jack emerges as the counterforce to the civilisation that Ralph tries to cultivate on the island. Jack is governed by his instincts. He knows how to get power over others. He knows how to rule, by hook or by crook. He emerges as the ruler on the island. The goodness that Ralph and his friends try to cultivate doesn’t enchant the children. Jack’s savagery is the real fun. They kill wild boars and celebrate the killing in ritual dances. They erect the head of one of those killed pigs on a pole in order to appease the mysterious monster on the island. The monster is their own creation, in fact, partly by fear and partly by the need for a supernatural power.

When there is no wild boar to chase, Jack and his team use one of the children in place of the boar for their hunting game. Robert is almost killed in the first such game. Jack doesn’t hesitate to use the littlest children for the game. He uses these children as servants and toys. He doesn’t value human beings. He is a narcissist; he is the born ruler.

The rift between the groups – Jack’s and Ralph’s – becomes wider and more bitter. Jack pulls away more children from Ralph’s circle by using various tricks. The roasted pig’s meat is a bait, for example. Jack doesn’t hesitate to use force too; he ties up the twins like prisoners of war.

Yes, it becomes a virtual war between the two groups, between civilisation and savagery. Simon and Piggy are killed in the process. Ralph manages to escape by sheer luck; Jack and his followers had tried to burn him alive. Seeing the fire, a ship that was passing by stops. The boys are saved. Even the saviour, a British naval officer, is shocked to hear what Jack and his followers did on the island.

Evil prevails on the earth. Man is more evil than good. What we call civilisation is a thin veneer of sophistication we have put upon our intrinsic savagery for the sake of our survival as a species or at least as communities (of religion, nation, or whatever). “Scratch the civilisation and savagery bleeds out,” as British historian and author Felipe Fernandez-Armesto said in his scholarly book titled Civilizations.

There are good people too. But their goodness is too feeble in the midst of all the savagery. The intrinsic goodness of a Simon is destined to be martyred. The rational goodness of a Piggy will be destroyed albeit accidentally. The learnt goodness of Ralph may manage to escape by the skin of its teeth. Evil will continue to boss over – with the appearance of civilisation on the surface.


PS. This is part of a series being written for the #BlogchatterA2Z Challenge. The previous parts are:
Tomorrow: The Moon and Sixpence

Comments

  1. Sad but true reflection of current day status of world in general. We see the manipulative forces winning over the rational ones.
    What I am surprised at is the fact that such instincts are evident in the children as young as 6 to 12 years?

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    Replies
    1. Golding was a teacher and he knew what would happen if pre-teen boys are left to themselves without adult supervision.

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  2. Wow this book looks sinister, and eerily familiar with real world. very well-writ

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  3. This should be an interesting read! Very well written.

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  4. I will definitely read this book because it seems to have some relation to the abuse I faced as a child in the hands of my peers in School.

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    Replies
    1. Children are not as innocent as we believe them to be.

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  5. I've thought of picking this book up for long. It's scary what the human mind is capable of when pushed to its extremes.

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  6. Yet another one..One which is on my reading list but have some how not got around it. Thank you. Now I will. Does it in some way resonate with Animal Farm?

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    Replies
    1. Animal Farm is a dystopian fable about the futility of Russian Revolution. This one is about the viciousness of human nature as seen in children.

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  7. Added to my growing TBR list! Thanks for the review!
    www.nooranandchawla.com

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  8. I have heard a lot about this book but got to know the gist of it through your review. Adding it to my TBR pile. Thanks for your recommendation!

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    Replies
    1. Welcome. I'm not exactly reviewing books here since these are classics.

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  9. Though its disturbing to see the children too! Tragic tale, sounds like survival of the fittest to me? Adding another one to TBR.. by the last post of your series, sure to have a large pile yo read..

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    1. It does gratify me to see many people adding these books to their to-read lists.

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  10. I read Lord of the Flies during my Masters. Loved your interpretation of the book.

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  11. I think it was George R. R. Martin who said that teenaged kids have a lot of cruelty inside them. Golding of course shows that to be the case with even younger children.

    The base factor, the animal inside, taking hold within and without, while horrible to read and watch, is a theme we see reverberating around us.

    At the same time, there's goodness too. Like the stories of random people helping strangers in the lockdown. Darkness is the absence of light and all that.

    All said and done, the book's theme that mere good ideas don't invite followers and power is true.

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    Replies
    1. Of course, there's much goodness, but it's rather feeble as you point out too.

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  12. I'd like not to believe it but I so know that it is the truth. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story and book suggestion.

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  13. I think there is a series on Netflix based on this book. Society I think is the name of the series.

    It's not hard to believe that man is inherently evil...that is probably why we had religion and later laws to protect the physically weak and meek.

    Lovely post!

    Cheers,
    CRD

    Episode 10 in the series 'Idiosyncrasies of a Covidiot"

    JAMBOREE

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Even religions haven't succeeded much in taming the beast within the human breast.

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  14. This is reality of life, today also political leader killing humanity just to gain some benefits.

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  15. Thanks for the summary. Adding to my to read list.

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