I feel like this is one of those books that most people are told they should read, whether in school or just in general, but one that a lot of people don’t like. In fact, I don’t know anyone in my personal life who has read it and liked it.
However, I wanted to read it, as it’s an important novel which has had multiple movie adaptations and is required reading material in many school. And, while I am happy I did read it…it wasn’t exactly great.
Synopsis: During a massive war, a group of British schoolboys are marooned on an island, forced to use their wits to survive as they go from celebrating freedom to barbarism.
On one hand, I understood and appreciated what Golding was trying to do with this book. He was trying to show that we all have a more inhuman and savage side if we defy rules or create our own twisted ones. You see this throughout history (with Nazism, for example). However, when it came to the details of the story, characters, and pacing, I just really didn’t like it. It’s a pretty slow and boring book, and it took me until over halfway into the novel to even start being interested. I didn’t really connect to any of the characters, and when something more traumatic happened, I found myself not caring too much.
There are three main characters who are more or less the oldest boys and the ones vying for power: Ralph, Piggy, and Jack. Jack is a hunter, often savage and cruel, leading a group of chaotic boys. Piggy is an overweight boy with glasses, who is probably the smartest, most moral of the group, but also physically disabled because of his poor eyesight and being out of shape. Ralph is arguably the main character of the book, and the first one we meet, who leads the boys in the beginning with the help of Piggy.
Now, I am going to get into some spoilers, like the very ending, but a lot of the deaths and smaller spoilers throughout I’ll leave for you to find out if you ever read the book.
There are several other boys who are named, including Simon and a set of twins. However, I honestly found most of the characters, including the main three, to be pretty bland. They all fit nicely into perfect roles. Jack is the crazy, animistic one. Piggy is the sensitive, reasonable one. Ralph is the level-headed, rational leader. I understand this book was written for a younger demographic, but because it covers such complex and horrible topics, I kept wanting the characters to defy their set, basic personalities.
In the end, the boys are consumed by their fear of this “Beast,” and slowly devolve to be less and less civilized, and more into animals. Ralph is the only one who is level-headed by the end, being hunted through the island by the pack of boys led by Jack. However, the book ends with the military coming to the island and rescuing Ralph before he can be killed.
I loved one of the lines on the last page, “…Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart…” It’s one of my favorite lines in the book, because it encompassed what most of us realize some point in our life. That there is a darkness in humanity, which has led to disaster after disaster throughout history.
So while I didn’t enjoy the book that much, I understood and appreciated what Golding was trying to achieve in the novel.
Have you read this book, or seen any of it’s adaptations? What do you think of it? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,
Best wishes in your life full of adventure,