Life in this hood is savage, yo! Salty language and adult themes ahead. Proceed with caution.
Tag Archives: LOTF
“Like any orthodox moralist Golding insists that Man is
a fallen creature, but he refuses to hypostatize Evil or
to locate it in a dimension of its own.
On the contrary Beelzebub, Lord of the Flies,
is Roger and Jack and you and I,
ready to declare himself as soon as we permit him to.”
—from “The Fables of William Golding” by John Peter, 1957
“Lord of the Flies is a very serious book which has to be introduced seriously. The danger of such an introduction is that it may suggest that the book is stodgy. It is not. It is written with taste and liveliness, the talk is natural, the descriptions of scenery enchanting. It is certainly not a comforting book. But it may help a few grownups to be less complacent and more compassionate, to support Ralph, to respect Piggy, control Jack, and lighten a little the darkness of man’s heart. At the present moment (if I may speak personally), it is respect for Piggythat seems needed most. I do not find it in our leaders.”
—E. M. Forster, introduction to Howard-McCann edition of
Lord of the Flies, 1962
“The South-Sea island setting suggests everyone’s fantasy of lotus-eating escape or refuge from troubles and care. But for Golding this is the sheerest fantasy: there is no escape from the agony of being human, no possibility of erecting utopian political systems where all will go well. Man’s inescapable depravity makes sure “it’s no-go” on Golding’s island just as it does on the various islands visited by Gulliver in Swift’s excoriating examination of the realities of the human condition.”
—from The Novels of William Golding by S. J. Boyd, 1988
Golding himself had this to say about Lord of the Flies in his essay collection A Moving Target (1985):
More than a quarter of a century ago I sat on one side of the fireplace and my wife on the other. We had just put the children to bed after reading to the elder some adventure story or another—Coral Island, Treasure Island, Pirate Island, Magic Island. God knows what island. Islands have always and for good reason bulked large in the British consciousness. But I was tired of these islands with their paper-cutout goodies and baddies and everything for the best in the best of all possible worlds. I said to my wife, “Wouldn’t it be a good idea if I wrote a story about boys on an island and let them behave the way they really would?” She replied at once, “That’s a first class idea. You write it.” So I sat down and wrote it.
A story about boys, about people who behave as they really would! What sheer hubris! What an assumption of the divine right of authors! How people really behave—whole chapters in that row of books behind my chair do little in the last analysis but agree to or dissent from that first casual remark. How then did I choose a theme? Even then, did I know what I was about? It had taken me more than half a lifetime, two world wars and many years among children before I could make that casual remark because to me the job was so plainly possible.
Yet there is something more. In a way the book was to be and did become a distillation from that life. Before the Second World War my generation did on the whole have a liberal and naïve belief in the perfectibility of man. In the war we became if not physically hardened at least morally and inevitably coarsened. After it we saw, little by little, what man could do to man, what the Animal could to do his own species. The years of my life that went into the book were not years of thinking but years of feeling, years of wordless brooding that brought me not so much to an opinion as a stance. It was like lamenting the lost childhood of the world. The theme defeats structuralism for it is an emotion.
The theme of Lord of the Flies is
grief, sheer grief, grief, grief, grief.
Survival stories have been a popular mainstay of literature stemming back to the oral tradition. The British and American branches of literature are full of them. Daniel Defoe’s 1719 tale Robinson Crusoe exemplifies many of the hallmarks of these tales we find familiar: a stranded hero, a deserted island, meetings and clashes with various native cultures, and eventual rescue, where the hero returns home a changed man for his experience. The book’s popularity spawned an entire subgenre of literature called Robinsonade, all of which contain a stranded hero, a new beginning, encounters with natives, and commentary on society. These influences can be seen in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726), a particularly biting piece of satire that uses the castaway motif to savage various aspects of English society, and the modern film Cast Away (2000), in which Tom Hanks plays a stranded Federal Express executive who survives alone on an island in the South Pacific for four years with the help of the contents of FedEx packages that washed up on the island with him, including a personified volleyball named Wilson.
In the Victorian era, one book of Robinsonade rose above all others in popularity, The Coral Island, published in 1858 by the Scottish author R. M. Ballantyne. The Amazon summary for this book reads, “When the three sailor lads, Ralph, Jack and Peterkin are cast ashore after the storm, their first task is to find out whether the island is inhabited. Their next task is to find a way of staying alive. They go hunting and learn to fish, explore underwater caves and build boats – but then their island paradise is rudely disturbed by the arrival of pirates.”
Clearly, Golding is in familiar territory, which is unsurprising. The Coral Island, one of the first adventure books written for boys and employing a boy as the central character, became wildly popular in Great Britain. The Coral Island has been required reading for British schoolchildren since the Victorian era (Golding will most certainly have read it in school), and the characters of Lord of the Flies reference it in Chapter 3 when Jack, Ralph, and Simon return from their fact-finding mission and confirm they have all been stranded.
Part of The Coral Island‘s popularity was its clear messages about morality and choices. Ralph, Jack, and Peterkin of the story are tested by their isolation, their encounters with pirates, and their interactions with the cannibalistic inhabitants of nearby islands. Through a series of adventures, the boys’ friendship and loyalty are tested and proved, and at the end the three friends, older and wiser, sail back to England together. Ballantyne included them in a sequel, The Gorilla Hunters, in 1861.
Victorian audiences ate it up. In a time when virtue was valued above all else, the purifying adventures of the novel revealed English boyhood at its very best, a trait embodied in Jack’s confident assertion in Lord of the Flies that their group would survive triumphant simply because they were English and therefore the best at everything. However, the book also contains the Victorian fault of viewing its English central characters as superior in breeding and morality to the “savage” native inhabitants of the region, who are dismissed as evil or praised as good based on whether those people have submitted to English values or have adopted Christianity. Golding, as you will see, explores these moral ideas with his characters in quite a different way.
A clear and rather extensive analysis of the literary influences and history of The Coral Island may be found at its Wikipedia entry. And since Golding clearly borrowed many elements of The Coral Island for Lord of the Flies, perhaps that helps us get close to solving one of the little, yet provocative, mysteries of the book: What is Piggy’s real name? (Hint: Who are the three main characters in The Coral Island?)
Although we’re often warned not to judge books by their covers, that’s exactly what we do. The cover art for a book is the first signal to the reader about the contents within, and a good cover can have a huge influence on whether a prospective reader will not only pick it up, but delve inside. Many readers will judge whether they might like a book solely on how the book appears. Hence, publishers pay close attention to how a book is presented.
Christopher King, the art director for the American publishing house Melville House, explored some of the design choices for Lord of the Flies in this post. One of the featured covers is for the 1980 Perigee edition found on the book you’re using, featuring artwork by California artist Barron Storey. Consider the differences between that cover and the current cover of the 2006 update by artist Ben Gibson.
In late 2011, the British publisher Faber and Faber, in association with the national newspaper Guardian, launched a cover competition for the centenary edition of Lord of the Flies. Since this edition was intended for the education market, only young artists aged 13-16 were invited to compete.
The official site for the competition included a gallery of past covers of Lord of the Flies in addition to the finalist entries from the contest. Review some of the historical covers in the Melville House post and compare them to one of the galleries from the competition below to see how cover design has changed since 1953. How does each cover reveal a different aspect or perception of the novel?
In the end, the judges unanimously selected the mixed media work of 15-year-old Sarah Baxter as the contest winner. An interview with Sarah was published in The Guardian. Her artwork was published in September, 2012 when Faber and Faber released the UK education edition of Lord of the Flies.
Explore the artwork further. What has Ms. Baxter included in her artwork that speaks to the plot, characters, and themes of the novel? Do you find this to be a successful cover? Is it intriguing? Would you have selected a different work as the winner? Which cover works better for the novel, the new US cover above, or the British cover? Considering these details can lead you to greater insight into the novel within.
In preparation for our Socratic seminar on Lord of the Flies, please gather textual support that will help you answer the following questions. Although direct quotations are encouraged, references to specific plot elements, characters, etc. in the text will suffice. Remember that the ultimate goal of the seminar is to enhance your knowledge of the work itself, so focus your attention on what occurs in the text rather than speculation drawn from the events in the text.
1. Who was the most effective leader, Ralph or Jack?
2. Could the boys have avoided the fate predicted by the Lord of the Flies?
3. Are people truly good or evil? Was the Lord of the Flies correct?
4. Analyze the conversation between Simon and the Lord of the Flies.
5. Which of the main characters was the most important to the story?
6. Whose fault is it that children started dying on the island?
7. Explain how the book uses foreshadowing.
8. What is the beast, really? Who is most affected by it?
9. How does the importance of the conch change throughout the novel?
10. What are the boys facing when they return home?
As you complete your revisions for your Lord of the Flies archetype essay, please consider the following:
DO: Include Golding’s full name and the name of the work in the first paragraph.
DON’T: Refer to Golding as “William” unless he’s your uncle or regularly comes to your house for dinner.
DO: Include a strong thesis in your first paragraph. It should be obvious which character, archetypal role, and theme/MOWAW you have chosen to explore.
DO: Integrate appropriate quotations or examples into the essay to illustrate your points. For example, let’s say you wish to include the following quotation from Ralph on p. 54: “I was talking about smoke! Don’t you want to be rescued? All you can talk about is pig, pig, pig!”
“I was talking about smoke! Don’t you want to be rescued? All you can talk about is pig, pig, pig!” (54) This is what Ralph says when…
Don’t plop quotations in and expect the reader to connect the dots for you.
Ralph’s frustration with Jack’s focus on hunting boils over when he yells, “I was talking about smoke! Don’t you want to be rescued? All you can talk about is pig, pig, pig!” (54)
Reveal your thinking about why you chose the quotation or example and how it connects to what you’re developing in the writing.
Anything quoted directly from the book, whether dialogue or description, needs to be cited with a page number.
DO: Include the bibliographic citation for the work at the bottom of your last page:
Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. New York: Perigee, 1954.
Now that we have completed our reading of Lord of the Flies, you will be submitting an analytical essay as your final assessment in lieu of an AP-style prompt. The objective is to reveal your knowledge of how Golding uses archetypes within Lord of the Flies to support the larger theme of the work.
In your essay, you will select a focus character from the following and identify his primary archetypal role in the work:
A good explanation of archetypal roles may be found here or in this Archetypes and Symbols handout. You may also refer to the Archetype_PowerPoint we referenced in class or consult the handouts on archetypes available on the AP Resources page to provide additional background and clarification.
Your essay should show, using appropriate directly quoted or paraphrased support from the novel, how your selected character develops to fulfill his designated archetypal role within the novel and how that role contributes to the work’s overall theme. You may also include references to other archetypal or symbolic information, such as the use of color, shape, etc. as you build your argument. Direct quotations from Golding should be cited according to MLA guidelines.
Archetypal themes to consider—remember that themes must be stated in a phrase, not as a single word!
Please study the following words for your vocabulary test, which will be given on Thursday, October 16.
Choose two additional words from the remainder of the list to study.
Please study the following words for your vocabulary test, which will be given on Thursday, October 17.
Choose two additional words from the remainder of the list to study.