So I finished book #24 of the year, and officially got off the weird half-book thing, because it was a satisfying re-read. I read Lord of the Flies by William Golding. It had been forever since I read that the first time, so it was a rewarding re-read.
I feel like (and really hope) this is still required reading in all high schools everywhere. If it’s not, or if you sparknote-d the whole thing, then 1) shame on you and 2) you should go read this book immediately. So many amazing and terrifying things happen in such a short amount of pages. But seriously, this book makes me doubt everything I have ever believed about human nature. We’re pretty evil.
There were quite a few small details that I had forgotten since I read this book, so that also made it rewarding. For some reason, I remembered there being a lot more pre-island back story to the main characters, or some of their interactions with each other on the plane before it crashed, but the book jumps right into their post-crash, post-civilization survival.
Which is kind of interesting to think about: when you aren’t given much character detail before they meet and begin interacting with each other in the linear plot, does your mind just fill in logical interactions because maybe the reader needs more contextual detail by default or something? Or am I just way over-thinking that? Probably.
Either way, I also forgot that Jack was a redhead! I felt sympathy for gingers everywhere, who are already unjustly perceived as evil because of some South Park episode. Jack Merridew did nothing to help the gingers of the world. For some reason, I always pictured him looking like a cross between that actor who played the creepy scarecrow character in the first Batman movie (with Christian Bale) and a construction worker. But no, he was a redheaded leader of the choirboys. And I still got goosebumps when he was first introduced.
None of this really matters in relation to the book and the awesome use of symbolism, though. Which is another thing I don’t know if I fully picked up on the first time around in high school. Every single detail mentioned in Lord of the Flies is meaningful in relation to the theme. I could see myself reading it in high school and getting caught up in the whole young-boys-adventure-series thing, but it’s obviously so much more than that.
The scenes that I do remember vividly were the hunting scenes, both when they started out “innocently,” and when they turned horrifying and completely out of control. Jack’s group starts out as hunters and ends up as savages, but I think they’re something more inhuman by the end of the novel, like animals themselves. The transformation is terrifying and way too believable.
I had also forgotten about the jarring end, and (sorry, spoiler) how they end up being kind-of-literally-saved-but-figuratively-pretty-screwed. For me as the reader, after being so completely caught up in the action of their final pursuit of Ralph, and the losses they had suffered, Ralph waking up on the beach in front of an adult officer is maybe the most jarring part of the novel. There’s a smooth transition from the children’s perspective to the officer’s perception of them, forcing the reader to realize the tragedy and absurdity of what they’ve just been reading. It’s so effective and so great.
I forgot how much I loved this book, so the reminder was nice. Even though ultimately it was a reminder that our society, and mankind, might slowly but surely be breaking down in helpless, unstoppable self-destruction. ◊
They walked along, two continents of experience and feeling, unable to communicate.”
– page 55