Thursday, September 25, 2008

Lord of the Flies / by William Golding

"Fun and Games?" (ch. 12)

During wartime, a plane carrying a group of schoolboys crashes on a desert Island. With the pilot perishing in the destruction, the boys--ages 6-12--must fend for themselves with no food, provisions, or hope of rescue. Initially, a called assembly reveals the lack of authority to be a blessing; some of the older boys loosely laying out guidelines amid a vibrant atmosphere of jubilation. Yet with immediate necessities needing constant attention, a long-term plan for survival is all too evident. Leadership is initially undertaken by Ralph, a rational--if naieve--sort, with little objection until sightings of a mysterious "beast" incite an uproar over its potential danger. The debate ongoing, Ralph's authority is soon challenged by Jack, leader of the "hunters", who proposes relocating the camp for more protective measures. Deliberation becomes anarchy when continued attempts at arbitration and self-governance descend into chaos, transforming the already primitive island society into savagery and martial law.
The title "Lord of the Flies" is a literal reference to the Hebrew word Beelzebub, also meaning "chief devil" or "prince of the air". The term is more commonly associated with the biblical Satan following his fall to Earth. Allegorical in nature, the book mirrors how civilization orchestrated by man inevitably fails. Even positive motives toward a harmonious society are an illusion; witness how quickly Ralph's intention for everyone "to have fun" dissolves into rancor and grievance. Golding wasn't solely concerned with the 'man against man' conflict though. Deeper aspects of the book point out man's obstinacy as the primary source in undoing the natural world, ultimately seen through the destruction of the island itself.

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