Thursday, July 10, 2008

July: Independence

A review of Lord of the Flies by William Golding

A group of British schoolboys are stranded on an island, presumably after a plane crash, and in their struggle to organize some sort of society, they instead break into factions leading to violence and death. Kind of like Lost. This fits the Book a Month theme of independence very well, as it is a rather harsh coming-of-age story of young boys who suddenly must survive on their own. Thinking of the month's theme, one cannot help compare them to a newly-forming nation made up of unruly, misguided people.

What this book lacked was context. There was a discussion among the boys about being saved in which someone mentioned a bomb and how nobody was around to save them. Were they on the plane because of the war? Were they escaping from something? Was a school trip? Why did it crash? And who were they before this happened? Not knowing anything about their background, they are all blank slates on the island.

In the notes, I read that Golding intended the story to be entirely symbolic. He wanted to show that the individual is what determines the direction of society, regardless of what sorts of organizations or governments are in place. The boys on the island were a microcosm of what was going on in the world - in the midst of their war they are saved in the end by a sailor with the Royal Navy who was involved in a larger war. Golding asks "But who will save him?" While this commentary adds some depth and context to the book, I can't help but be disappointed by any novel which requires reading author comments or other criticism to have an idea of what it is actually about. Without that, it's still a decent story, but rather two-dimensional.

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