“The Lord of the Flies” is an adventurous and mysterious novel written by William Golding about a group of young British boys who have to struggle for their life on a deserted island after crash landing into it in the midst of the cold war. It’s a perfect recipe for an adventure book, but it’s not your average adventure and mysterious novel. William Golding does a great job of taking us deep into the heart of man showing us the conflicts between reason and instinct to battle against one another as the boys fight to survive.
The main characters of the story are:
1. Ralph: Ralph is the protagonist of the story who, though gets elected as the leader of the group at the beginning of the story, doesn’t possess any characteristics of a leader but only an average man. He represents the man having instincts of civilization in the story.
2. Piggy: Piggy is an intellectual, a fat and near-sighted boy. His inventive intelligence often leads to various inventions such as a makeshift sundial so the boys can tell the time. He represents the scientific and rational side of civilization.
3. Jack: Jack is the antagonist of the story, who becomes the leader of the hunters but his desire for total power causes him to become increasingly wild and barbaric. He represents the savaging instincts of human beings.
4. Simon: Simon is a shy and sensitive boy, who in some ways is the only naturally “good” character in the whole plot. He behaves kindly towards others and is willing to do work to improve the community. Simon represents a kind of natural goodness as opposed to Jack’s evil and the civilizing instincts of Ralph and Piggy.
5. Roger: Roger is Jack’s side-kick, who is a cruel and a sadist boy that goes on to murder Piggy by rolling a boulder on him. He represents all the evil things that Jack represents.
6. Sam and Eric: Sam and Eric are a pair of twins, who are close friends with Ralph. The boys always stick together and are often called “Samneric” by the group. At the end of the novel, they fall victim to Jack’s manipulation and oppression.
The Plot of the Story:
The plot is a downward spiral that starts with the establishment of a small civilization and order among a group of boys that ends with a “just in time rescue of the protagonist of the story”. Set during the cold war period, a plane crashes, leaving a group of schoolboys stranded in a desert. After all, the young boys’ dreams have come true: who wouldn’t want a whole island to play on all day without any scolding or nagging from the Adults? The unlikely protagonists are the fair haired Ralph and his side-kick, appropriately named Piggy. Without any adults, the boys realize that a leader must be elected in order to make sure that everyone has fun and doesn’t act unkindly (except to Piggy of course, teasing Piggy is perfectly okay). Ralph ends up being elected due to his leadership skills and popularity with the rest of the boys. Ralph befriends a choirboy called Jack, who turns out to be the antagonist in this story. Both boys grow to hate each other as the days pass, with Jack getting hungrier for power. One point of interest is the introduction of fear by something the boys call “The beast” which later on becomes The Lord of the Flies which is represented by a severed boar head on a stick. Another important point in the story is the division of the group of boys into two groups. One lead by Ralph (Ralph, Piggy and Samneric) and another group lead by Jack (everyone else). Jack’s group is a tribe of face painted savages who hunt and kill to survive, whereas Ralph’s group is a group of civilized boys. Jack’s troops have increased their hunting skills by killing pigs. As Jack successfully recruits more boys, Ralph becomes more isolated. Then, Jack’s tribe kills Piggy by running him over with a boulder and they later move on to kill Ralph. Ralph is cornered by Jack’s group and he thinks he is a goner when suddenly a naval officer arrives on the beach in his gleaming uniform who eventually rescues the boys from the deserted island.
All in all this is a brilliant novel that shows the readers how even very young boys can kill each other to be the leader and for their survival. I would recommend this book to the teenagers, who want to try something different, to say the least. Teenagers who like adventure and mystery should certainly try this classic. In other words, if you’re the one for romance and happy endings, look elsewhere. Indeed its inner meaning is very dark, making the reader wonder how thin the line between good and evil really is.