Is Lord of the Flies Worth All the Hype?

“Words could not express the dull pain of these things.”

As I read Lord of the Flies, these words rocked my whole being. They flooded into every corner of this story. These words were whispered in hushed tones, then spoken through lips staring out to sea, then shouted over the bathing pool, then in panicked screams they were yelled from the top of the mountain. Before they were told to the reader, the reader knew them, knew that they were there. 

The moment the story opened, following the fair boy through is first moments on the island, I was enthralled. It was enchanting. There was fun, friendship, joy beneath a tropical sun. As I turned pages though, I began to hear those faint whispers. They persisted, louder and louder, until those heavy boots made their prints in the white sand, and silence made it possible to breath. 

The characters I’ll never forget:

“Which is better, law and rescue, or hunting and breaking things up?”

These words define Ralph, define his struggle, his ideals. Without Ralph, there wouldn’t have been any presence of civilization on the island. He was a leader at heart, yet often all he wanted was to be alone, or to be a laughing boy. I identified with Ralph a lot.

Once, daydreaming, he thought, “they would go by car; no, for things to be perfect they would go by train; all the way down to Devon and take that cottage again. Then at the foot of the garden the wild ponies would come and look over the wall…” That moment he described is running, flying, through fields of grass. That moment is floating on a clear lake on a summer’s day. That moment is peace, serenity, childish joy. But when I say childish, I mean it without the negative connotations, I mean those days of endless imagination and energy.

Instead, Ralph was forced to be a leader and to stand up for what was right. We love those people who fight for good, but it’s hard, it’s hard to be a hero. And it took its toll on Ralph, as it does anyone who defends what is right. So I’m grateful to Ralph, despite his imperfections, for taking the bullet, and being a hero.

“And in the middle of them, with filthy body, matted hair, and unwiped nose, Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy.”

The true, wise friend called Piggy. That’s who he was. He stuck with Ralph when no one else would. He put up with a lot, with complaining, sure, but he was loyal and smart. Piggy was born to be a friend, and a defender of what was right. He wasn’t a charmer or a warrior, but he was essential. He lifted the curtain that periodically hung before his friend, Ralph’s, eyes with a mind that couldn’t be changed.

“Softly, surrounded by a fringe of inquisitive bright creatures, itself a silver shape beneath the steadfast constellations, Simon’s dead body moved out toward the open sea.”

When I read that line, I wanted to scream. I wanted to curl up into a ball on the floor and cry. But I didn’t do any of those things. I read with a straight face, because I had known it would come. Those words spoken to the sea had told me that something was coming. 

I had loved Simon more than any of them. He hadn’t become the beast that the rest had become. He was the only one to really know it was there. He found joy in beauty, he had seeked that haven, that wonderful sanctuary behind the jungle curtain, he was free, but not wild. He was human. He never was savage. Simon was able to put fear behind him and see things as what they were. He saw a helpless human rising and falling with the pull of the wind, when the rest of the boys saw a vicious beast ready to tear them to pieces. Simon loved while others hated. He loved the little things. Simon was a quiet voice of reason in the midst of chaos.

“Well that isn’t fair. Don’t you see? They ought to do two turns.”

Sam and Eric. Sam ‘n’ Eric. Samneric. They were a fascinating added layer to the story. I especially loved it because I’m a twin too, and I’m just as close to my twin sister as Sam and Eric were. I completely understood the dynamics and I actually thought that William Golding portrayed the life of twins very good. At least twins that are friends with each other, anyway. My sister and I would make dinners together, twice a week, instead of as my brother did, by himself, once a week. From my experience, twins can be very different from each other, yet share many similarities. My sister is an introvert, and I’m and extrovert. Yet there are fundamental truths of the way we see things that we do share. “The twins were examining Ralph curiously, as though they were seeing him for the first time.” I could see this scene perfectly, because I knew that feeling. My sister and I seem to see people the same way. I know what it is to see someone for the first time. We always seem to agree on that, who people are.

“He forgot his wounds, his hunger and thirst, and became fear; hopeless fear on flying feet, rushing through the forest toward the open beach.”

This is the line that I thought was the most beautifully written in the entire book. I love that, “he became fear; hopeless fear on flying feet.” Then seeing that fear translate into the next moment; “He gave himself up to them now for the first time on the island; great, shuddering spasms of grief that seemed to wrench his whole body.” It was a full swing of human emotion. It was real. William Golding knew what it was to be human. And that is what he wrote.

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