William Golding – Lord of the Flies


Lord of the Flies is William Golding’s first novel and is now considered a must read classic.  A group of British boys are stranded on an island and left on their own to survive.  They elect a chief and attempt to create a hierarchical system in which labour and tasks are divided up.

Ralph, the elected chief, is in possession of a conch which he uses to call assemblies and designate the speaker.  He talks to the group about the importance of keeping a signal fire and the need to build shelters.  These orders are followed for a time.

Jack, the head hunter, is rather ambitious and wants the title of chief for himself.  He does everything he can to prove he is not a coward.  He gains much accolades when he and his hunters kill their first boar but at a heavy price.

Piggy, a fat kid with ass-mar, seems to do nothing but complain.  He does, however, always makes the most sense but is always ignored.  If the conch symbolizes rules and regulations, then Piggy represents sanity and structure.  When both icons collapse, all hell breaks lose.

Beelezebob is a Hebrew word literally translated as Lord of the Flies.  He is a demon and has associations with Hell.  Once you know this, the whole scene with Simon and the pig’s head makes a bit more sense.  In particular the lines,

“This is ridiculous.  You know perfectly well you’ll only meet me down there – so don’t try to escape!”

What is William Golding saying if not that at the core all men are evil and they will be going to hell?  And to finish off his novel he ends with,

    “……..Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and………………..”

That line alone makes me want to re-read Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.  I can almost guarantee I will enjoy it more now that I don’t need to read it as a school text.  I personally think men are naturally good, just certain individuals do things not to be evil but for their own pleasures.  You could call it selfish but not evil. Or maybe that is the definition of evil?

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