Lord of the Flies: A Timeless Classic

Lord of the Flies is a must read.

Provided By: Conservative Treehouse

“Lord of the Flies” is a must read.

Attention freshmen, you may want to know this…

Love it or hate it, tenth grade honors English requires students to read the well-known “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding. Teachers will give insight into the background of Golding’s 200-page classic and the context in which the book was written.

Golding wrote the dystopian novel in 1954, after World War II ended in 1945. It revolves around a group of boys that is stranded on an unknown island after a plane, that was supposed to take the British boys away from a nuclear war, crashes for an unspecified reason.

The boys try to remake a civilized society, and set order in the chaotic situation they are in. They elect a “chief,” set rules, and build a fire to send smoke signals. However, as time passes and the boys grow more and more restless, the society and all order falls apart. The boys fall into savagery and the primitive state.

The book started off slow, mainly due to the unfamiliarity of the characters, but as you gradually get to know them, the read becomes more interesting. The different challenges presented to the main characters- Ralph, Piggy, and Jack- and how they are dealt with reveals the thought processes of the different boys. These differences escalate to a point where Jack and his followers separate from Ralph’s tribe. I especially enjoyed the visualization of the change from schoolboys to warriors. Ralph, the protagonist of the story, along with Piggy, quickly realize that building a signal fire is key to being rescued from the island. This goal quickly becomes a side factor as the boys lose focus on the idea of being saved.

Teachers focus on the concept that the novel is an allegory, a work that can be interpreted to have a veiled, figurative meaning. Read on the surface, the novel tells simply of the hardships the boys face unsupervised on the island: the fears, the social conflicts, the fighting, the beast, and the struggle to survive. However, you quickly learn that there is indeed a deeper meaning; you learn about how certain characters fit into Freud’s psychoanalytical stages, how certain groups represent Nazis, and how different objects stand for much greater themes. These stand-ins require deep analysis and heavy annotations (especially if you want a good grade!).

The novel consistently presents juxtapositions that seem to reflect upon themes like Savagery versus Civilization, Nazis and Fascism versus Democracy, and Immorality versus Morality. Characters, objects, and situations all embody these ideas and themes. Your teacher will require you to identify these entities and depict how the building blocks come together to form the allegory.

Whether you analyze the allegory or not, the story is a must-read. The beginning may be slow and unappealing, but continue, because by the middle of the book, you won’t be able to put it down.

This is a very appropriate book to read over the summer for incoming 10th graders, as I expect it would be a great preview. This timeless classic is an enjoyable read due to the intriguing idea of leaving a group of adolescent boys left for dead on an island. What makes it even more interesting are the “aha” moments when you realize that certain characters are representing much bigger themes.