REVIEW: Lord of the Flies by William Golding
This book was brutal. It tells the story of a bunch of kids (all boys) stranded on an inhabited island after a plane crash.
Both of these things I knew going in. What I didn't know, however, was how the story would unfold. And how young the kids were.
Other than most people in the time it was first published, I already knew it wouldn't be a story about a paradise island, but what went down was still a shock for me. It's hard to wrap my head around what happened there.
The book did a really good job of showing what went on on the island, how dynamics shifted, how kids thought, and how they acted. It showed an interesting view on society. Why do we act the way we act, do we need to have structure or leadership, and what happens if those things fall away?
Still, sometimes I had a hard time going with the boy's logic. Part of that might be because I am not a boy, so I can't look back and think on how I acted as a 12-year-old. It meant I had to actively adjust my mindset to it. If they let the little kids just wander off, I had to remind myself that, of course, a boy of twelve is still a kid. They don't yet always see what we see. The littluns can just go ahead and do what they want, and besides, the bigguns couldn't take care of them even if they wanted to. This made reading the book an interesting experience for me, trying to see the logic, think like they did.
It made some profound statements, like when the kids outside of the group noticed how the face paint of the others made them more free, but/and also more dangerous. It is easier to let go of what you have learned or think you should do when you can hide behind a mask (or a laptop, for instance). That people will go to great lengths for a sense of security. The need to be included, to be in a group.
"Piggy and Ralph, under the threat of the sky, found themselves eager to take a place in this demented but partly secure society."
I don't think everyone will necessary behave like this and go this extreme, but I think the book (like the Stanford prison experiment) shows that humans are capable of cruel things when they feel justified by the environment they're in. Even upper class, privileged white boys, which, for that time, was an interesting statement.
“He’s going to beat Wilfred.”
Robert shook his head doubtfully.
“I don’t know. He didn’t say. He got angry and made us tie Wilfred up. He’s been”—he giggled excitedly—“he’s been tied for hours, waiting—”
“But didn’t the chief say why?”
“I never heard him.”
Sitting on the tremendous rock in the torrid sun, Roger received this news as an illumination. He ceased to work at his tooth and sat still, assimilating the possibilities of irresponsible authority.