“Lord of the Flies” sketches out a human narrative that brings civilization as a whole under inspection. Through the actions of kids stuck in an island, William Golding tries to emulate a society without laws, and then draws out a story that is spine-chilling and introspective at the same time. William Golding’s universe is not unfair, however, it does erase the boundaries of good and bad quite easily.
When, the children land on an island, the first response is to panic and scatter. Here is where we find Ralph and Piggy, both voices of reason in a group of boys who tend to go towards anarchy. The civilization starts. Till this point, Golding is fun, he makes Ralph and Piggy be high-nosed English boys who have been conditioned by the society to be perfect in following the rules.
The pace Golding establishes is sluggish, he uses words that create an atmosphere of horror and adventure. At once, you almost feel like you are reading a teenage fiction book. However, the pace changes almost suddenly and you are smack at the middle of everything again. Ralph is driven by his need to be civilized and often times becomes the sole voice of reason in the Island, but, in such extraordinary circumstances, the boys seek fun, they seek freedom, and there comes Jack.
Jack is a character whose caliber might be comparable to that of Arnold Friend’s from Joyce Carol Oates story “Where are you Going? Where have you Been?”. He is an enigma, a person who desires to have a following and be called strong. In his craving for authority, for power, he leads a group of men to hunt, an occupation that automatically gives him a ruling role, and also puts him away from the voice of reason, Ralph. In his struggle he embraces his primal instincts and thus, the organized society descends into madness.
William Golding investigates the parts of human psyche that we do not discuss even when we are behind doors. He puts children in a position that demands them to form a society and descends the entire world into anarchy. The tension rises with the killing of the sow. A mother sow who is killed by the group of hunters in a moment of passion. They enter her and she dies, her head to put atop a wooden stick. The sow in this case is a catalyst, and the killing begins the tumultuous pages that put the violence out there, naked for all to be seen.
Here, Golding does a master trick, he puts the rational people with the primal beasts and he lets the desires flow out into the open, an experiment that makes this book transcend into new territories, and to some extent, dissolve the boundaries of good and evil.
If the sow represents the innocence, Simon represents the morality of the society. He is always there, he understands the pain and the ultimate fate that awaits them and he fights it. At the end, he becomes a sort of catalyst too, he is portrayed as somewhat of an icon, who is doomed to fail. In the mastery of words, Golding transforms the whole world which seemed so real into fantasy and in that fantasy he plays along really well.
There is a reason why this is a cult classic, the atmosphere, the components and the characters all add to the story creating literary brilliance. Golding creates characters that one might see in any school and he uses them brutally. Written by Golding in the aftermath of the second World War it depicts humanity as a whole. It might be interpreted as a saga of the civilization itself, or just a document on what goes on inside the human mind whose civility we have come to take for granted. He does not employ flowery language and the book carries no tedious descriptive passages, instead in a taut story which has all the making of a childish adventure he throws in his ideas to create something that has survived the test of time.
Characters here do not merely represent human beings, they become symbols of a greater moving civilization, a representation of integral parts of any society.
In doing this, Golding creates a genius masterwork that would be remembered through the ages. The only problem I see with this novel is that the pace, which is uneven throughout. In the middle the pace whizzes out and we are left with sluggish writing that makes reading a chore.
Overall, this is a work that is brilliant and would probably be remembered through the years for being one of the best novels ever written.