William Golding is not the most prolific writer. Throughout his life, he wrote 12 books. But it was his first published novel, Lord of the Flies, that made him world-famous.
Although at first the book refused to publish as many as 20 publishers. But within a couple of years after its publication, the popularity of the novel skyrocketed. Allegory, dystopia and parody at the same time, the work captured the minds of people, shocked by the horrors of World War II and the creation of atomic weapons. And most importantly, the author honestly tried to answer the main question of our time “Why? Why are we like this? True, his answer was disappointing.
What is Lord of the Flies about?
The novel is a pleasure to read – a linear plot, action-filled scenes, vivid imagery and simple language.
The first scene takes place on the seashore. The heroes Ralph and Piggy meet there (we will never know his real name). Smart and attractive Ralph blows the nautical horn and the boys are soon joined by other children. Including a group of choristers, led by Jack. It becomes clear that they were all flying an airliner, but crashed (perhaps shelling). Children understand that they are on a small island, without adults.
They decide to stick together and wait for rescuers. In the meantime, they can collect fruit, swim, look after each other. Ralph becomes something of a leader. And the children discussed it and voted. He immediately talks about the fire. They need to keep the fire always lit so that passing ships see a column of smoke. Therefore, it is necessary to appoint special attendants. In addition, Ralph understands that Jack, the leader of the choristers, is not too pleased with the election of Ralph to the “leaders”. To avoid conflict, Jack is asked to remain in charge of the choristers. Let it be a group of hunters.
Everything seems to be going well – the children are relatively safe, they have food and water, they have even created a semblance of a civilized society.
It takes just a couple of weeks and their situation begins to inexplicably worsen. Firstly, the children are tired of the vegetarian diet, tired of watching the fire, and they are also afraid of the Beast. The situation explodes when Jack’s choristers go hunting, the fire goes out, and a ship actually passes by the island. Ralph is furious and blames the chorus leader for everything. But Jack is sure he did the right thing. “I killed a pig!” he insists. At the general meeting, everyone is again trying to decide what to do. And the kids are increasingly talking about the “Beast”. He dreams of children at night, even teenagers start talking about ghosts, about someone who lives in the sea. But no one knows who or what the Beast is. Now everyone is divided into two camps – the Hunters with their leader and the rest of the children, led by Ralph. If the latter tries to somehow organize life, adhere to certain rules, then Jack is sure that’s a lot of extra work. Adolescents are no longer arguing about leadership, their rivalry develops into a principled dispute. “The law is all we have,” according to Rolf. “Why the hell do we need these laws! We are strong, we are hunters!” This is Jack’s position.
Soon, the firemen tell that they saw some kind of creature by the fire in the morning. In fact, this is the corpse of a pilot who died in battle. But rumors about the Beast have been given a new round. The group finally splits, the choristers refuse to follow the rules, they believe that the “Beast” will not let them light a new fire and get off the island. They will just hunt, and the Beast will bring a gift.
The “hunters” have killed the pig and invite Ralph to the feast. Meanwhile, Simon, a teenager prone to epilepsy, goes to see the one called “The Beast”. Simon sees that the figure that frightened everyone is just a dead man tangled in parachute lines. Much more, the boy is frightened by a pig’s head on a stick – a gift from the Hunters. Simon begins to talk with his own hallucination, because it seems to him that the head answers him. The monster claims that “we want to have some fun here on the island.” And Simon is unable to stop them, because the Beast is “a part of himself” and “it’s because of me that nothing worked out for you.” These are perhaps the key words of the novel, fully explaining the author’s intention.
Events are developing rapidly. Simon returns to Jack, where Ralph is also present. But the teenagers are excited by the dance where the pig is killed again and again. “Beat the beast! Cut your throat! Release the blood! The teenager who came out is first mistaken for a ghost, and then they are attacked by the whole crowd and killed. Later, Ralph will say “I don’t even know what happened to me.” But he seems to be the only one who cares about what happened. Jack and the hunters believe that the Beast has turned into Simon, and Piggy, trying to justify himself, calls everything an “accident”.
Soon, a group of Hunters steal Piggy’s glasses, because only with their lenses can a fire be lit. The angry boy runs towards Jack’s lair. But the head of the Hunters has already gone far, he terrorizes those around him, beats and intimidates those who disagree, moreover, he has loyal followers like the sadistic Roger, who is thinking about the “possibility of unlimited power.” After mutual accusations, Piggy tries to persuade the “tribe” (as the children now call themselves) to be “reasonable people”, but Roger drops a boulder on him. Piggy is dead, after a moment of horror, Jack screams: “I am the leader” and “You have no tribe.” In fact, he opens the hunt for Ralph.
The boy is being searched all over the island, it is becoming more and more difficult for him to get away from his pursuers. He is sure that they will kill him, because two have already been killed. Finally, the “tribe” sets fire to the forest, the fugitive literally rolls down to the shore, realizing that now they see him and will definitely kill him. But looking up, Rolf sees a naval officer. The English cruiser really saw the smoke and turned towards the island. The officer jokingly asks, “Are there any dead bodies?” And the boy replies: “Only two.” Other children emerge from the burning forest.
Meaning of Lord of the Flies
The meaning of Golding’s work is obvious. A civilized person turns into a ruthless savage, and democracy into a dictatorship is not due to external circumstances (enemy, difficult conditions). This “fall” is at the core of human nature. If in the 18th and 19th centuries it was believed that people were kind by nature, then for Europeans of the 2/2 of the 20th century who survived WWII, it is quite obvious that any person can turn into a complete scoundrel. Aggressiveness, unwillingness to think about the future, fear of the outside world quickly wash away the layer of “civilization”. To avoid such an ending, a person must recognize his own depravity, understand that Evil is “a part of himself.”
Analysis of the book “Lord of the Flies”
The plot of the novel begins with the call of the shell, where the children, finding themselves on a desert island, decide to save civilization and touchingly discuss what to do. The symbol of hope is the bonfire, for which Ralph so stands up. “The fire is our only hope.” It seems to everyone that they are in an idyll – a beautiful island, friends are nearby and help will come soon.
When children become afraid of the Beast, and Jack and the choristers prefer to hunt rather than follow the fire, their civilized community changes. There is a conflict of two worldviews: a fire, as a possible future, or hunting, as a way of life. Simon acts as a catalyst – it is he who understands that the Beast is inside them, but the “tribe”, as if distraught, pounces and kills him.
In the finale, Ralph, having regained his sight, tries to negotiate with Jack. But he loses a friend and becomes a victim himself. The incredible appearance of adults on the island is similar to the arrival of higher beings, gods, who look at the distraught children with sympathy and disgust at the same time.
How the book “Lord of the Flies” was created
The writer began work on the novel in 1952 while working as an English teacher in Salisbury. He decided to call the book Strangers from Within. It was his manifesto for the human race. And after the war years (Goldin served in the Navy, participated in the Allied landings), he was convinced that “people do evil, just like a bee produces honey.”
In January 1953, the book is ready, but no publisher wants to accept it. The publishers claim that it is boring and absurd. Faber and Faber publishers said so too, but Charles Monteith, an editor who recently came to the firm, saw a rather battered manuscript in a dustbin, pulled it out, read it and … persuaded the bosses to buy the book for 60 pounds (an extremely low price for those years). The first edition of the novel was not particularly successful, but the paperback edition, more affordable, unexpectedly blew up the public. The novel became a classic of European literature of the 20th century. And the creator hated “Lord of the Flies” for life, believing that he wrote other, much more worthy things.
The meaning of the title of the book “Lord of the Flies”
The original title of the book, “Strangers from Within,” is typical of Golding’s worldview, which believes in the evil inclination contained in every person. But Monteith thought it was too “abstruse”. At the prompt of another employee of Eliot’s publishing house, the famous poet, the novel was called “Lord of the Flies” – this is a literal translation of the name Beelzebub – a pagan god, in Christianity one of the princes of demons.
The problems of the novel “Lord of the Flies”
Despite the simple plot and short time of action, the problems of the novel are rich. This is, first of all, the problem of the civilization of man and the human community. The ability to follow moral standards without external control.
Even in the book it is said in some detail about the destructive power of irrational fear. Having imagined an invisible enemy, people quickly believe in the monstrous qualities of the enemy, as well as in their own inability to resist.
In addition, the novel treats social ties as both good and evil at the same time. A person is not able to survive outside of society, but a rigid hierarchy in the “flock” completely dissolves the human personality. Good people can get involved in heinous crimes simply because they are afraid to say no.
Moral of Lord of the Flies
The main idea of the book – do not look for the guilty outside. All the failures of human civilization are not the result of secret enemies or insurmountable circumstances. The whole fault lies with the man himself and mankind as a whole. In the depths of the human soul there is an evil inclination. To resist, it must be recognized and known.
Explanation of the Lord of the Flies ending
The ending of the novel is somewhat confusing. Why did salvation come to the children at this very moment. When, it would seem, evil finally won? Simon, torn to pieces by the crowd, Piggy, his head crushed by a stone, and Ralph is alive, but spiritually broken.
It turns out that the future, in this case, “adults” always comes. It comes and sees us brutalized, unhappy, burning down our paradise island. And it is not clear whether the children who have become savages can again turn into decent English schoolchildren.
I hope I helped you find the meaning of the book “Lord of the Flies”, as well as understand its ending. If you have a different vision of the book – write your own version in the comments.