Brain Bites: William Golding's "Lord of the Flies" by Writing Insomniac


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Uhhh…can anyone say bratty kids? How about Survivor – English Boy Style? I remember taking one thing away from Lord of the Flies by William Golding; don’t get stuck on an island with a bunch of kids (and I read this when I was a kid). Well, there is actually more to Lord of the Flies than that but it seemed like a real nightmare. War is raging in Britain and so the boys are flown out of the country to the tropics where they are shot down over a tropical island. Ralph and Piggy (how would you like to have that name?) discover a conch shell and use it as a horn to summon the other boys. The boys realize they need someone in charge and select Ralph as their leader. Once elected Ralph does what any leader does – he takes off (OK not something Churchill would have done). He explores the island and then tells the other boys that they must light a signal fire and keep it burning to attract passing ships. But like most boys they are more caught up in playing than watching a boring old fire and the fire soon engulfs the island forest killing one boy. Ralph decides to be responsible and maintain the fire and tries to get the other boys who are splashing in the water and otherwise enjoying a tropical paradise to also maintain the fire. Ralph also begins to build shelter. Meanwhile, another boy, Jack, becomes passionate about hunting but in an entirely scary way.

One day a ship passes and Ralph and Piggy notice that the signal fire has burned out. They also note that the hunters’, led by Jack, were in charge of the fire. Ralph and Piggy decide to confront Jack but him and the rest of the hunters are totally distracted because Jack just got his first kill – early man style. Ralph tries to restore order by giving an impassioned speech a la JFK and FDR. You know “there is nothing to fear but fear itself”. But the littlest boys on the island aren’t buying it. They think there is a monster on the island. So Jack, glowing from an adrenaline rush of killing an animal, decides to kill the monster (because killing a hamster obviously prepares him for killing a gruesome monster). He also manages to pull most of the boys on the killing expedition leaving Ralph to maintain the fire. Do you really need the rest of the details? Well, I don’t want to give you the ending including the reason why the whole book is called Lord of the Flies anyway. Let’s just say Jack goes bonkers with the whole hunting thing and decides he is going to be leader and comes after Ralph and sets the whole forest on fire to smoke Ralph out. Oh, adults make their way to the island…but you will have to read the book to find out what happens to the kids. But, word of advice, stay away from an island or otherwise isolated spot with a bunch of kids as they seem to have a tendency to rally and become violent

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