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#166482 - Fri Apr 04 2003 04:33 AM Lord of the Flies?
ren33 Offline
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I am on chapter five, and finding I am , once again, wanting to kick their heads in! It says in the blurb that "Golding really knew about boys". I know I am going to , once again, wish that he didn't. They are all awful. I had forgotten just how awful, in fact.
Has anyone else made a start?

('edited on order of the Mod for including 'ren33's thread on...' in the title!)


Edited by ren33 (Fri Apr 18 2003 04:16 AM)
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#166483 - Fri Apr 04 2003 05:46 AM Re: Lord of the Flies?
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I was forced to read this book at school for English and I hated it. Nothing could induce me to ever read it again.
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#166484 - Fri Apr 04 2003 07:40 AM Re: Lord of the Flies?
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ren, I managed to crack into the first few pages and it took me one page to start disliking Ralph. I last read the book in high school but already the dread of what's to come is present.
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#166485 - Fri Apr 04 2003 09:14 AM Re: Lord of the Flies?
Islingtonian Offline
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I have to say I like it. The children are horrid, but then children sometimes are. I recall seeing an 8 year old on TV once who was boasting about attacking her friend (who had a weak heart) and "punching her in the heart".

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#166486 - Fri Apr 04 2003 02:37 PM Re: Lord of the Flies?
skylarb Offline
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The thing is, it isn't just the children who are horrid. The island and the children are portrayed as a kind of ironic microcosm for the war. They're wrecked there, after all, during a World War.

I read this book twice, once in high school and once in graduate school. I appreciated it both times, but much more in high school because (1) I was more cynical then, in keeping with the theme and (2) I hadn't read as much literature, and didn't have as many greater works to compare it to.

The book paints a bleak picture of a mankind tainted by original sin, motivated by a beast within, inevitably bound for brutality and chaos. I find truth in this, but I also find truth in the idea that man is capable of creating civilization, of living for long extents of time in peace in liberty. I don't think what happens on the island is inevitable, but it is sort of portrayed as though it is inevitable, as though it is but a mirror of what is going on in the larger world as a whole, which is currently engaged in a world war.

I think one interesting question to discuss once people have read more is the very question Ralph asks: "What makes things break up like they do?" What really causes the problems on the island?
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#166487 - Fri Apr 04 2003 06:36 PM Re: Lord of the Flies?
ren33 Offline
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Quote:

I don't think what happens on the island is inevitable, but it is sort of portrayed as though it is inevitable, as though it is but a mirror of what is going on in the larger world as a whole, which is currently engaged in a world war.




I think I agree, Skylarb. What I believe is that the problems arise from the lack of experience, guidance and maturity of the boys. Fourteen is not a good age to be asked to make decisions, is it? One of the worst, in fact.
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#166488 - Thu Apr 10 2003 06:49 AM Re: Lord of the Flies?
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At last...I have now got my copy of the book and I shall begin reading as soon as my manager has left the office Oh alright I'll wait until I'm on the train
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#166489 - Sat Apr 12 2003 02:58 PM Re: Lord of the Flies?
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Gosh. I just finished it and it was horrible! I was fine until they actually killed Simon - what? I am going to read it again and want to read Coral Island....anyone else finished? What did you think?
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#166490 - Sat Apr 12 2003 04:51 PM Re: Lord of the Flies?
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I had to read this for grade 11 English. I hated it! I think what disturbs me the most was that a quote from the original publication (by Ralph, I believe) was "You're all acting like a bunch of niggers!" This was changed in a subsequent publication to "You're all acting like a bunch of Indians!" (that's BETTER!?). I believe anything printed today says "You're all acting like a bunch of savages!"

Yeah, that's a great lesson for kids today...
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#166491 - Sun Apr 13 2003 08:41 AM Re: Lord of the Flies?
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Well, it doesn't matter what word is used there, since that is not his point--i.e., that any group of people are more "savage" than any other. His entire point, as far as I can tell, is that ALL men are savages; that what is happening on the island is a kind of mirror reflection of what is happening in the supposedly "civilized" world; the British naval officer who stops the savagery on the island just goes back onto his own ship to engage in the savagery of war. So I don't really care about whether he says they are acting like Indians or niggers. That's not the message. Everyone is acting like fallen men. It's another version of "The Heart of Darkness."

But as far as the message IS concerned--I don't know how much I agree with it. I fluctuate hourly between an almost Calvinistic belief in original sin, to a Romantic or even Randian belief in the mighty potential of human kind, to a Victorian Christian humanist concept of man as imperfect but reformable, as capable of moral progress in a structured, civilized society.

Things break down on the island, just like they have broken down in the world at large, which is engaged in a World War. Is that breakdown inevitable, no matter what the conditions of society, simply because man is inherently sinful? I think Golding believed that it was inevitable. He said in a 1962 lecture:

"So the boys try to construct a civilization on the island; but it breaks down in blood and terror because the boys are suffering from the terrible disease of being human."

But critics have argued for all sorts of other reasons for the breakdown, which Golding did not give. Some reasons include:

(1) Suppression of the natural, bestial side of man results in its unhealthy eruption and the consequent societal breakdown. (I don't buy this one at all, personally. I don't see the "beast" as ever being supressed. People who take this line genrally see Jack as representing the bestial side of man, Ralph the rational side. There is generally talk of symbolic sexual repression vs. its indulgence, too, with reference to the pig killing scene.)

(2) Or, quite the opposite: Some say that the beast is not suppressed strictly enough; when law and order is lax, evil erupts. (The argument here is that Ralph's government is lackadaisical, giving evil free reign.)

(3) Another view is that society's failure to reconcile reason with mystery causes the breakdown. (Simon represents mystery; Piggy reason)

These are interesting views to consider. What do people here think? Why did things end up the way they ended up? I can certainly see why this book is so often taught in high schools. It's a practical instruction book on symbolism.
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#166492 - Sun Apr 13 2003 03:53 PM Re: Lord of the Flies?
ILuv2Teach Offline
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Okay, time to put my two cents in. I also read "Lord of the Flies" in high school. As most high school students do, I hated it. This was mostly because it was required reading rather than something I would be reading for pleasure. Also mostly because I didn't really understand it then.

Then during my Literacy methods class in college I chose to do my novel study on it. I read it again and LOVED it! I loved the way Golding wrote! I loved the way he used shorter consonant filled words to show quick movement in a scene and long vowel centered words to show slow passage of time. I loved the vivid images and had my own mental image of what the island looked like.

My favorite character has to be Simon. Even at age what...11? He had the most depth but was antagonized by the other boys because he spoke over their heads so they wrote him off as "odd". When in fact, he was the one who discovered what the beast actually was - the fear in each of them. It idealized the famous quote "We have nothing to fear but fear itself". There was no actual "beast" but the boys were so afraid of this imaginary creature that they convinced themselves there was one. This revelation came to Simon when he went into one of his...I don't know what they actually were...some people say "epileptic fits". Some people say "fainting spells". I don't know what it was that actually happened but Simon "spoke" with the "Lord of the Flies" and it confirmed for him what he already knew - that fear was the only beast the boys were in danger of.

Unfortunately, this realization lead indirectly to Simon's demise. He ran out onto the beach where the other boys were having a pig roast in celebration of their capture of a pig. It was nighttime and they were dancing around the fire like...well, like savages. The grave, instinctual manner that uncivilized men needed to have to survive had taken over. They saw something coming out of the woods, in their blind fury, thinking it was the beast, they pounced on poor Simon, killing him.

It made me sad when this happened but I knew it had to happen. Simon was about to tell them something that their 11 yr old minds would probably not be able to comprehend. They wouldn't have believed him anyway. They never would. He was too wise to be with them. They had no structured society to tell them to listen to him so they didn't. They had no patience for what they didn't understand.

Piggy was another good character. While all the characters had faults, Piggy's faults were more prevalent than others. Starting out with glasses or "specs" and being an overweight asthmatic were strikes against him. Since at that age, children tend to judge people based on outward appearance. It didn't help that he was a bit whiney and annoying to the other children.

He did hold a position for Ralph as his confidant and proverbial judge of right and wrong. Ralph, finding himself on his own, with only Piggy, Simon and a few others, faced with the danger of Jack's "tribe" and the pressure of having to be the leader or "brains" of their own "tribe", he turned to Piggy asking what he should do.

Ralph liked Simon. Probably because Simon was quiet and didn't have anything against Ralph but Ralph didn't understand Simon any better than any of the other boys.

Ahhhh I am being called away at the moment but I shall return with more commentary

Take care and keep reading between the lines,
Chris

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#166493 - Sun Apr 13 2003 04:22 PM Re: Lord of the Flies?
ILuv2Teach Offline
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More on Piggy. It is pretty ironic that although Piggy was the least liked and the one used as a scapegoat most of the time, he was a useful character. Even though most of the other characters did not like Piggy, they knew they needed him, or at least his specs for survival.

They used his "Coke-bottle glasses" to start the fires that kept them warm, that cooked their food, that created a smoke signal that might possibly help them get rescued.

Eventually, Jack's tribe realized that they didn't need Piggy, just his glasses. They ambushed Ralph's camp and stole Piggy's specs leaving Ralph's camp without any way to start a fire.

One thing we need to remember is that these boys were only 11 or 12 years old. In normal society, they would still be learning what is appropriate and how to be responsible. Since they ended up on this deserted island, with no adult supervision, they could not possibly know how to effectively govern themselves.

Remember that early on, they were still under the influence of society. Jack's troops marching in their lines, Ralph calling meetings. But eventually, without a mature adult perpetuating these structured events, it all gave way to chaos. The boys simply were not old enough to know how to survive in a civilized way.

Initially, it was all a game to the boys. They were "playing" war. They weren't serious about it but eventually, it became real war. Jack was out for blood. Remember how squeemish Jack was about killing the baby pig in the beginning? Well, eventually he got better at it and started to like the feeling of control and power which ended up showing in how he controlled the children who were in his "tribe".

More later, dinner time here.
Chris

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#166494 - Mon Apr 14 2003 04:10 AM Re: Lord of the Flies?
TabbyTom Online   content
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When I came to Ralph's question "What makes things break up like they do?", I was tempted to choose the second of skylarb's alternative interpretations, i.e. that Ralph's lax rťgime gives evil a chance to erupt.

But I'm not so sure. I read somewhere (I can't remember where) that Golding, who was a schoolmaster, disliked the strict discipline that was imposed in his day in most British schools, and didn't think it did much good.

People have different ideas of the nature and purpose of "law and order". At the assembly after the first reconnaissance of the island, Ralph says that they've got to have rules in their assemblies because "we can't have everybody talking at once. We'll have to have 'Hands up' like at school." His concern is that everyone will be heard and have a chance to contribute. But Jack's immediate reaction is "We'll have ... lots of rules! Then when anyone breaks them ...", and the boys respond with "Whee-oh!", "Boing!", "Doink!" etc. To Jack and many of the boys the attraction of rules is the opportunity to punish people - other people, of course. This is a not uncommon attitude in society - many of our politicians, police and others seem to be more concerned with inflicting punishment (preferably but not necessarily on the guilty) than with improving conditions. The boys have been subjected to the kind of discipline that Golding disliked, and it has produced this attitude in many of them.

Like skylarb, I find myself fluctuating between the belief that the periodic eruption of the beast is inevitable and the belief that it might be possible to create a genuinely civilized society. As Simon realizes, the beast has its origins in fear. Jack knows how to play on the boys' fear and keep it alive for his own advantage (as well as how to tempt them with goodies like freshly killed pork instead of fruit which often makes them sick). Ralph and Piggy areunable to counteract the fear. The way to prevent the eruption of the beast would be to create a world in which people saw no reason to fear others, either at home or abroad. But this requires a heroic effort, and a saintlike capacity to overcome discouragement. So most people (including me) won't even try, and the beast will continue to thrive among us. So my answer to skylarb's question as to whether the breakdown was inevitable is "in theory no, on practice yes".
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#166495 - Mon Apr 14 2003 05:33 AM Re: Lord of the Flies?
ILuv2Teach Offline
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I agree, I think Ralph's attempt to set up some kind of organized society was his attempt of maintaining order, the only way he knew how. The same way the adults did. It seemed to work for the adults so why SHOULDN'T it work for the kids? Except that the kids aren't quite sure how to pull it off. The idea is good in theory but like previously said, not in practice.

Then Jack, in his natural leader qualities, snapped up the chance to impose rules on others and dispense discipline the same way. He knew how their teachers and probably parents punished them and he couldn't wait to have a chance to turn the tables and be the punisher rather than the punished.

I don't think Ralph's regime necessarily was lax in and of itself. It had some merit in that the rules were established but within a setting of rules there has to be an understanding that those rules would be followed. Rules were set up but what were the consequences for breaking the rules? What was to motivate the others to follow those rules?

I think Ralph just was unaware of the need to have a consequence system set up and Jack didn't care about a fair consequence system, he just wanted to punish people and control them. Remember how upset he got when the other children "elected" Ralph to be the leader? To him, it meant that part of his control was taken away. I think it was probably then that he started formulating his plan for starting his own group and being the leader of that group.

Although I agree that Jack tried to perpetuate the idea of the "beast" in order to keep his tribe loyal to him, I do think that he actually believed there was a beast as well. I think that was the other reason he was motivated to keep his tribe together, to protect him.

On the issue of creating a genuinely civilized society. I don't think it was possible on the island. If the characters were adults, yes but they were 11 yr old boys who were unable to set up a fair governmental system. They simply did not know how. They only knew from what they saw the adults doing but imitation is not the same as knowledge. Parrots can imitate speech but it doesn't mean they can generate original thought and speak for themselves.

Originally they just wanted to have fun as would be the natural inclination of children. For once there were no adults telling them what to do. I don't think they had the maturity enough to be responsible. Ralph started to see the need to be responsible (in order to get food, make a fire, set up camp, etc)but no one wanted to follow through to continue on like that. They weren't used to being the only ones doing all the work. Adults usually took up the bulk of the responsibilities. Now it was only them and they would rather play.

Now I pose this question: What was Golding's reason for deciding that a Naval officer arrives at the island at the end of the book?

I personally believe that he wanted to remind us that although these boys were their own entity on the island, that there was also a war going on. I always find it interesting that as soon as the boys come out of the forest and onto the sand and see the officer standing there, that although they have been their own "government" for the extent of the story, they instantly revert back to being 11 yr old boys. Some even start crying not that this is what 11 yr old boys do but for so long they had been forced to be strong for survival, now someone was there to take care of them and the urges they had before to cry were now coming to the surface.

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#166496 - Tue Apr 15 2003 03:00 AM Re: Lord of the Flies
izzi Offline
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It appears that my choice for our book of the month has met with mixed reaction, some love it and others hate it...perhaps it depends at what stage of life it was first read. I'm a little late starting on my copy this month and although I've read it before, long ago, I'll be playing catch up with you all I'm afraid. It will be interesting to see if my views on Lord of the Flies have changed over time. Some excellent points have been raised so far, and I'll bear these in mind during my reading.

Piggy has to be by far my favourite character, and I think he is very easy to identify with. He's a realist who knows his own limitations, his strengths and his weaknesses...most unusual in one so young. He acknowledges that he will never be leadership material but is happy to be advisor to the chief, in effect his second in command, a role his personality is ideally suited to.

Early on he confided in Ralph about his medical condition and his nickname and even though Ralph betrayed his trust and humiliated him in front of the others he still stuck by him, partly I think through loyalty, but probably also because he saw Ralph as his best form of protection within the group as a whole. He'd had to deal with bullying all through his school life and through trial and error had found the best way to come to terms with it.

Piggy was a very down to earth, sensible lad making suggestions to Ralph about all the important leadership decisions, even to the extent of allowing Ralph to take full credit for some of those suggestions.

>>>quote:

" We can use this (conch shell) to call the others. Have a meeting. They'll come when they hear us... That was what you meant, didn't you? That's why you got the conch out of the water? " <<<

It was Piggy, if I remember correctly, who suggested holding an assembly, making a list of all the children's names, looking for fresh food and water, starting fires and making basic shelters. All the necessary steps towards basic survival and eventual rescue.

On the issue of the eventual breakdown on the island, we only have to look at the recent events in Iraq to see how easily law and order can be broken down without some form of authority to uphold it.

There was an element of discipline in the beginning. Even though Ralph and Jack were rivals, there seemed to be an unspoken understanding between them that they needed to pull together and work in tandem for the greater good of all.

I think that the turning point and crucial breakdown came when Jack realised that he couldn't bring himself to kill the pig. He knew that for survival and at the time more importantly in his view, to save face amongst his peers, he would have to find that strength from somewhere. Eventually he found those barbaric, primal instincts deep within himself, bringing them to the fore in himself and the others by reverting to atavistic tribal rituals through body painting and dance.

I'm convinced that the capability for primitive, barbaric behaviour still lurks within us all, it's only self control and conscience which keeps those feelings in check. All that is required is the right trigger mechanism to set them off. I believe that given the right circumstances most of us could shake off our moralistic shackles and revert to an element of savagery without a second thought. How many of us, if honest, couldn't do whatever was necessary to protect a loved one under extreme conditions? I certainly don't mean any form of premeditation, but just simple gut reaction on the spur of the moment when faced with the ultimate decision. I also think that even though the instincts for self preservation are so powerfully strong, I wouldn't imagine that many would take the same course of action if it were only ourselves at risk. I suppose that's what makes us human.
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#166497 - Tue Apr 15 2003 07:52 PM Re: Lord of the Flies
ILuv2Teach Offline
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This is true. Piggy was, if nothing else, loyal. He's the kind of person you want when the going gets tough. Even if he can't help you win, he can keep your spirits up and put a positive spin on things.

I felt SOOOO horrible for him when he confided in Ralph, his school nickname and then Ralph told everyone. Although one could plead the case that he was too trusting for only knowing Ralph a short time and who can blame an 11 yr old boy for finding a mean nickname funny. I think, had Ralph known then, what a good friend Piggy was going to be to him, he would never have revealed his secret.

Kudos again on bringing up the fact that Piggy was humble. I think it's important to note that yes, Piggy knew his limitations. He had definite physical downfalls. Between the asthma, the obesity and the glasses, he probably had no choice but to accept his flaws and move on.

You have to give Piggy a lot of credit. Even in the face of all the antagonizing comments, he shook it off and continued on.

Personally, I think Piggy was Ralph's saving grace. He was the one who kept Ralph going. He encouraged him when Ralph was desparate to figure out what to do. He was truly a great friend to Ralph (whether Ralph realized it or not).

It's a rough game when both of my first and second favorite characters were killed in the story. I guess I can't help but root for the underdog, huh?

New comments? Favorite character(s)?

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#166498 - Wed Apr 16 2003 12:15 AM Re: Lord of the Flies
izzi Offline
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Quote:

Now I pose this question: What was Golding's reason for deciding that a Naval officer arrives at the island at the end of the book?





From memory once again, as I haven't finished the re-read yet:

The timely arrival of the naval officer on the beach always struck me as a convenient contrivance (the French term won't come to me as I type) on Golding's part to save Ralph from an almost certain brutal death. Had things been allowed to continue there would have been no possible hope for the future for the rest of the boys.

Simon's death, although brutal, was accidental and carried out in the darkness while all of the boys, apart from the twins, were in a state of heightened frenzy. Poor Piggy died at Roger's hand and shocked most of the others.

Ralph's imminent demise would be different...cold blooded and calculated. The sticks sharpened at both ends gave us the hideous insight of what was in store for Ralph. We know that he would have become the next trophy.

I think Golding had shown them to us at their worst and this way left us with a clear ending, not only to save Ralph, but to save the boys from themselves.

The sudden appearance of an authoritative figure broke the dark, oppressive spell of the island. The boys, although still wearing their masks of evil, instantly became childlike again.

Through Golding's words however, we are reminded that their innocence is lost forever.
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#166499 - Wed Apr 16 2003 04:37 AM Re: Lord of the Flies
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Quote:

Now I pose this question: What was Golding's reason for deciding that a Naval officer arrives at the island at the end of the book?




I think, as I believe someone else has mentioned, that the point was to remind us of the war going on. More specifically, the point was to show that what was happening on the island wasn't happening because these were "just kids." It was happening because there is something gone terribly wrong in the world, something sick in the heart of humanity--a beast within. I don't think the beast is "fear," as has been suggested here, though I can see some arguments in favor of that. I think the "beast" is the evil within men's hearts, that can be contained, but never utterly destroyed, by civilization. And it will erupt.

The point I think Golding is making here is that yes--a naval officer is coming to break up this war on the island. But what is he? He's a naval officer. He's a warrior. And he's in the middle of a World War. What's happening on the island is but a microcosm of what is happening in the entire world. What is happening with boys is happening with men. The beast is not contained in "civilized society" anymore than it is contained on this island. The boys think adults can solve everything (someone says something about "if we were adults, we could just sit down to tea..."), but Golding is suggesting that is wrong; adults don't just sit down to tea either; they crumble into war as well.

I don't think this ending is supposed to be a convienent resolution--a contrived way to end the war and restore hope. I think it's meant to destroy hope, in a way; as a blatant way of saying the war on the island is but a reflection of the war in the world. What is the physical beast, after all, but the body of a dead soldier? This isn't about just being kids without guidance. It's about just being human.

I'm pretty sure this is Golding's message, but I don't particularly care for it. I believe it has more than a large grain of truth, but it is also too extreme. There IS a difference between civilization and savagery, and civilizations can and do persist for large stretches of time in relative peace. But I suppose he is right; the eruption of that beast occurs sooner or later.
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#166500 - Wed Apr 16 2003 06:11 AM Re: Lord of the Flies
ILuv2Teach Offline
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Quote:

Now I pose this question: What was Golding's reason for deciding that a Naval officer arrives at the island at the end of the book?




There are probably many theories about why this new character was suddenly brought into the scene but one thing is certain, when Ralph runs out of the forest onto the beach and the officer is standing there, it really brings the reader out of the scene.

If you remember, just previous to the officer's arrival, we had the island on fire and Ralph running through the jungle, literally to save his life. The story was written so that we were right alongside Ralph, experiencing his fear and need for survival. Similar, probably to what a animal feels like when being persued by a predator. The words were quick and short to simulate the chase and the urgency of Ralph to escape.

So there we are with Ralph running, darting around, jagged pieces of thoughts and suddenly, he runs out of the beach and suddenly, we have an adult. In one instant, we are taken from being in the midst of the chase, isolated on this island to being forced to remember that there is a whole other world outside this jungle. The officer was evidence of that.

As has been previously said, upon seeing the adult, the boys, these "savage beasts" instantly returned to being children under the influence of a grown up.

It is because of this that I believe that the story tells us that evil does not lie in the hearts of men (or boys, in this case). These boys were not "turned evil" by being on the island. The "evil" began to grow without a civilized society. Their society became one without rules and expectations of behavior. One without some kind of authoritative figure. Chaos began to rule once all structure was gone. All the boys knew was authority, without it, they didn't know WHAT to do with themselves. They weren't old enough but to try to imitate what they saw adults doing and they couldn't understand why it didn't work when they did it.

It is evident by the arrival of the officer that the boys themselves were not turned evil. Had this been the case, the boys would have acted no differently with the officer there. If the experience had truly changed them, having an adult presense would have made no difference but the fact that they automatically reverted back to their childlike behavior of obedience as soon as they saw the officer tells us that only the absense of authority caused the primal behavior in the boys. Once that authority figure was there, the behavior was gone.

Would the boys be changed once they left the island? Yes, I believe they would. How could anyone NOT be changed by that? I don't believe that the experience changed their hearts but I think it might influence what kind of person they are as adults. It's something to think about. How would the remaining main characters be as adults? What jobs would they have? What kind of friends would they have?

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#166501 - Wed Apr 16 2003 06:46 AM Re: Lord of the Flies
izzi Offline
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Perhaps I do Golding an injustice Skylarb. I've only ever skimmed quickly through the book before and never actually studied it in any detail, but I'll make a further reassessment when I've finished it.

This is why I'm finding some of the comments in this thread so useful while I'm reading it through again. Issues have been raised which I might never have given any thought to, such as Teach's observations regarding Golding's careful choice of words to emphasise action, speed etc. Some admittedly, are obvious even to the casual reader, like the description of the fire raging out of control, the section where the large boulder is being moved into place, and the solitude and peace Simon finds in his special place in the jungle. There are so many other very clever, subtle phrases which could so easily be overlooked.

I'm still at the stage where most of the boys can still be plagued by a conscience. When two of the older boys were teasing the littl'uns on the beach, Maurice felt guilty for kicking over their sandcastles and Roger was keeping himself amused by throwing stones just out of reach of the younger boys.


.....

"Now though there was no parent to let fall a heavy hand, Maurice still felt the unease of wrong doing."

.....
"There was a space round Henry, perhaps six yards in diameter into which he dare not throw. Here, invisible yet strong, was the taboo of the old life. Round the squatting child was the protection of parents and school and policemen and the law."

.....

Then we are given an ominous glimpse of the change in Roger's personality to come.

.....

Roger's arm was conditioned by a civilization that knew nothing of him and was in ruins."
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#166502 - Fri Apr 18 2003 03:50 AM ren33's thread on : Lord of the Flies
ren33 Offline
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I do agree Izzi, I found other people's views so interesting and helpful. What a good idea this Book of the month Club is!! Thanks all for your insights.
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#166503 - Fri Apr 18 2003 07:17 AM Re: Lord of the Flies
izzi Offline
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I'm pleased I'm not the only one finding all the thought provoking remarks stimulating. Just catching up on some of the comments made earlier in the thread.

Quote:


One thing we need to remember is that these boys were only 11 or 12 years old. In normal society, they would still be learning what is appropriate and how to be responsible.





At any other time I would agree with you Teach, but bear in mind that this particular bunch of boys were war-time evacuees, wrenched away from their mothers and being transported off to places unknown. Their fathers, older brothers and uncles would have been away for quite some time serving their country, effectively leaving the adolescent boys to become the 'men' of their families with little or no 'heavy handed' male guidance to keep them in check.

We know from their uniforms that they had been used to strict discipline at school, but their homelife during the war years would have been totally different from 'the norm'.

Many would have had to do some swift growing up to take on the extra responsibilities expected of them. This might have affected them in two ways, they could either accept it or rebel against it. Either way it might possibly explain why most of them were just happy to play and enjoy their new found freedom once they were completely without adult supervision on the island.

Can anyone comment on this background aspect, perhaps from personal experience?


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#166504 - Fri Apr 18 2003 09:47 AM Re: Lord of the Flies
LindaC007 Offline
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Hi, izzi and everyone!

I just finished reading Lord of the Flies--it's the first time I have read it. I thought it was a disturbing book. I don't like to think that our civilized veneer is so thin--but I enjoyed reading it very much. Maybe because I am a reading it first as an adult.

I am trying to think how I would have reacted to this situation as a child if I had been on the island. I want to think I would have stayed with Ralph and Piggy. I believe I would--but then again, the other side were the hunters--they offered the meat.

You know, this was like mass hysteria, wasn't it? In their frenzy and fright over the "beast", it seems to me that it took over--all Ralph and Piggy's commonsense could not stop it.

The most terrible thing in this book for me was Simon's death. It seemed like this wildness was now unstoppable from this point on.

My 14-year old read this as an AR book this year in her 8th grade class--which means (for those who don't know how Acclerated Reading works), she read it on her own and took a computerized test on it. I asked her to join the discussion, but she said she really didn't understand so much of the dialogue. I think she would have gotten more out of it if she had read it in class with a teacher.

I have really enjoyed reading all the posts here
very much. I agree about Piggy--he was my favorite character, with Ralph a close second.
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#166505 - Fri Apr 18 2003 11:00 AM Re: Lord of the Flies
izzi Offline
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Linda, what a coincidence that your daughter has been reading this book recently too!

I mentioned previously in the main Book of the Month Club thread that LOTF could be compared to other books. The similarities between Ralph and Jack with Snowball and Napoleon from Orwell's "Animal Farm" are quite striking. So too is the way that Old Major's head was stuck on a spike in the farmyard and left there to decay. I think I remember too the phrase "They (the pigs) are behaving just like men"...ironic!!

Any suggestions for similarities to other books, or further comments about "Animal Farm"? I believe that Ballantyne's "The Coral Island" was mentioned earlier. I know the storyline, but that's one I've never got round to reading myself...your thoughts?

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#166506 - Sat Apr 19 2003 06:16 AM Re: Lord of the Flies
skylarb Offline
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Quote:

It is evident by the arrival of the officer that the boys themselves were not turned evil. Had this been the case, the boys would have acted no differently with the officer there. If the experience had truly changed them, having an adult presense would have made no difference but the fact that they automatically reverted back to their childlike behavior of obedience as soon as they saw the officer tells us that only the absense of authority caused the primal behavior in the boys. Once that authority figure was there, the behavior was gone.




That's an interesting way to look at it, and one must address that point. In fact, that seems very logical to me, and it is how I would be inclined to see things, but I don't think it was the author's intention. I'll quote Golding himself:

"The boys were below the age of overt sex, for I did not want to complicate the issue with that relative triviality. They did not have to fight for survival, for I did not want a Marxist exegesis. If disaster came, it was not to come through the exploitation of one class by another. It was to rise, simply and solely out of the nature of the brute."

Evil did arise out of thier own hearts, at least, according to the author.

A literary critic who agrees with you is Kathleen Woodward, and she says that Golding "has misread the moral of his own fiction." She claims that Golding does not show that violence arises "'simply and solely out of the nature of the brute'," but rather "how a society . . . can degenerate into lawlessness when there seems to be no apparent . . . ties binding people together." Lord of the Flies, she says, is not so much a "resigned plea" that the shape of a society depends on the ethical nature of the individual as it is "an argument for strict law and order within the democratic system." Jack causes the break up of the society; had he been contained, she says, had "the sweet persuasions of democracy [been] sharpened by force," the problem would not have occurred.

So, the author may have one view, but he may end up inadvertantly suppoting another. Or, we may just take from it what we wish to take from it.

My objection to Woodward's view, however, is this: If Roger's sadism is restrained by the appearance of the naval officer, by the taboos imposed through strict law and order, then let us not forget that this restraint is "conditioned by a civilization that knew nothing of him and was in ruins" (quote is from the book). If the civilization is in ruins, then obviously strict law and order did not work there either.

Piggy remarks that "Grownups know things . . . They'd meet and have tea and discuss. Then things 'ud be all right--" And I am inclined to believes this is quite possible. But the author means Piggy's assertion to be perceived as naive. There are only two "grownups" in the story. The first is the dead parachuter whose corpse is the result of a horrible war and who is associated with the beast. The second is the officer who comes to rescue the boys. As Golding has been quoted as saying in other writings, here "'adult life appears, dignified and capable, but in reality enmeshed in the same evil as the symbolic life of the children on the island. The officer, having interrupted a man-hunt, prepares to take the children off the island in a cruiser which will presently be hunting its enemy in the same implacable way.'" The officer's white drill, epaulets, and revolver are not all that far removed from Jack's stick, sharpened at both ends. The officer's "row of gilt buttons down the front of a uniform" is something like the paint that frees the savages from the shame of killing.
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