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Lord of the Flies

Popularity 1Viewed 3325 times 2017-5-9 15:27 |Personal category:reading|System category:Others| book, review

Lord of the Flies


I noticed this must be a classic years ago as it was always on the recommending list of books sent to me by Amazon. But I never thought that I would get hold of it and finish reading it to know the mystery of the story.


I decided to read it mainly because of the conversation I had with one of my students. She told me that her English teacher asked them to read this book and analyze the characters depicted in this novel and then write an essay about it. (She was studying in an international high school.) With almost grandiose gestures, she vividly showed me how much she and her classmates resented the book adored by her teacher who claimed this to be one of her favorite books.


Out of curiosity, I invited her to share the reasons for her resentment towards the book. She confessed the most significant reason why she and classmates alike loathed the book was not because of the language barrier but because of the evidently thoughtfulness and deepness underlying in the seemingly simple story. With very limited life experience, they found it rather difficult to comprehend the meaning William Golding was trying to pass to his readers. Then she moved on to tell me the story and the main characters even though I didn't ask for these.


Although I seriously dislike being told the story before reading it, I was sort of intrigued by her apparently biased opinions on this book. Also, I wanted to find out what I might actually feel about it. I wondered whether I as a matter of fact might like the book like she believed.


Out of pure coincidence, I encountered with the book one day when I was checking the imported English books in a bookstore. I was then talking with my friend about the book "Me Before You". I told her that I would like to read this love story as the movie adapted from it was absolutely tear-jerking. Then out of the corner of my eyes, I saw this book sitting quietly in a relatively dark corner of the book shelf. Compared with some hardcover books, this one looks very simple, thin and seems easy to read.


I grabbed it from the shelf and started reading and wasn't all that impressed by the very beginning. Still, I told myself there must be something about the book. Otherwise, it wouldn't be considered classical. Nor would it stand the test of time.


I didn't really enjoy reading the book but I did want to know the story including the details. What I particularly disliked was the scenery description on the island. It seems that classical literature writers  all have the tendency of showering the readers with countless rather abstract description on nature by using a lot of ancient words which almost make me believe I am virtually illiterate. This sort of scene more often than not makes me want to give up reading the whole book as it is first of all difficult for me to understand the literal meaning of it and second of all it is even more difficult for me to get the indirect meaning buried in the scenery description. I constantly feel like the story drags on but at the same time heads to nowhere.


Another reason why I don't like the book is that I don't like the story. It's pretty dark and twisted. I know it is meant to reflect the dark side of humanity or whatsoever. But still it is simply so sad that I am even ready to believe under some circumstances we human beings are just monsters. I leads me to wonder maybe the saying that we are born evil isn't all that wrong after all. Without laws or regulations, I suppose there will be no order in our world.


The third reason why I didn't enjoy reading it was that I didn't and still don't like any of the characters in the story.


Piggy is apparently not built to be an adorable kid. I wonder whether the naming of this character is supposed to be a part of teasing this character. He is chubby as well as stunt. With asthma, he isn't able to do pretty much all the physical work, no hunting or dragging the log of wood for fire. He seems to symbolizes the wisdom as he obviously knows some basic scientific knowledge and knows what is important. But unfortunately nobody seems to care about what wise or sound advice he has to offer. That said, I didn't grow into liking him even though I knew Piggy deserved better according to the preface. I mean he talks and talks and doesn't seem to be able to take actions. He is overall to me physically too weak to survive on that deserted island.


Ralph is not so likable either. He is of course physically stronger and more attractive than Piggy is. With the conch, he was elected the leader of the group even though he and Piggy found it together in the first place. After becoming the leader, he soon abandoned Piggy for an adventure. At the beginning, when everyone was in ecstasy for there was no adults around demanding them to do this and do that. Ralph appeared to enjoy the newly-found power of being a leader. At the very start, he clearly knew what they should do to be rescued and was able to give confident and unswerving guidance for the group. As conflicts among the group rose, he became hesitant and needed affirmation from others especially from Piggy to know what to say or do. I even thought he was so weak when he received the meat that he didn't join for hunting. (Of course, it's easy for me to say this as I am not the one living on an isolated island.)


Jack is evil, rude and merciless. He is a typical villain. But strangely, I actually sort of admired his courage for leading the group to hunt but certainly not leading them to kill other kids. Personally, I kind of believe his fashion of leadership worked better if this were about other day-to-day tasks. When reading what Jack's group did, I realized it proved some psychological phenomenon I read not long before. The strips they wore sort of hid their identity resulting in them being more bold and releasing the demons in their hearts. Anonymity breeds truth as well as violence in that situation. Also, being in that group magnified everyone's desire of wanting to do things together be they good or bad. When every one in the group was doing something, it didn't seem all that strange or unreasonable to do the bad thing. Being in a group does to some extent shit down people's self-monitor and decrease their self-consciousness.


If it were a peaceful time, Jack would probably serve for the public and society;


If it were war time, Jack would probably be the one initiating the plan of turning people into monsters.


I admit I don't truly or entirely understand this book. I suppose to grasp what the write is trying to convey requires more than one time reading. If you are interested in the story, you can go ahead and read it. BTW, there is a movie adapted from it.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)





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Reply Report HailChina! 2017-5-26 09:20
I have never read the book but I have seen a movie version when I was young and I watched some if a more recent adaptation recently. In my opinion International High Schools should be banned. You think Jack would be serving the public in peacetime or turning people into monsters in war do you? In my opinion International High School students are a bunch of Piggies that believe themselves to be what you think Jack is. A class of Piggies being nurtured to act as enemies of the publics of whatever nation they claim to be from. Piggy offspring of a class of piglets that have inherited the earth apparently. It seems that every regular contributor to this forum is some piglet that works against the people of earth for some secret class of international piglets. It seems that this forum is some kind of international piglet initiative. I think it would be a good thing if a boulder was dropped on every last one of you piglets. You are pretenders. You need to hide in the shadows because deep down you all know yourselves to be worthless piglets that do not deserve your places in this world. You piglets know that you need to hide yourselves and your evil intentions from the rest of us. None of you are Jack. You are all Piggy.

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