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Lord of the Flies

By William Golding (14)

The cruelty latent in human beings is deftly explored in William Golding’s modern classic, Lord of the Flies. In wartime, a plane crashes over the Pacific Ocean, and a group of schoolboys are stranded on a desert island. In order to maintain order, an older boy, named Ralph, becomes the chief. Soon the children spread rumors of a beast on the island, and decide to use the glasses of a boy named Piggy to signal passing ships. Ralph’s authority is challenged when the rough Jack leads a hunt for feral pigs on the island, while Piggy and Simon stay behind to construct shelters. But as the hunt continues, the children lose their chance to signal a ship passing the island. The presence of a dead jumper attached to his parachute leads to another hunt, with many of the boys becoming as savage as their newfound leader, Jack. In the debilitating confusion that marks the rest of the story, first Simon, then Piggy, is killed. When Ralph is marked as the next target, he runs for his life in a climatic scene, finally encountering a British naval officer, thus ending the deadly game on the island. Golding has written a provoking novel, especially for high school readers, who can contemplate the qualities that define, or should define, humanity.

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