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#166532 - Sun Apr 27 2003 03:40 AM Re: Lord of the Flies
izzi Offline
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Quote:

When that officer arrives, it seems to me that Golding is clearly aiming for a pessimistic irony. A horrible savagery has just occurred on this island, but all the naval officer does is "grin cheerfully" and "whistle softly."

His only real reproof is, "I should have thought that a pack of British boys . . . would have put up a better show than that."





It's easy to imagine that this officer must have seen some awful things having been living through the horrors of wars, but has this hardened his heart?...no. This 'warrior' treats the children with gentle compassion, his tone is sympathetic, if just a little admonishing.


Quote:

It is only my personal views about what constitutes the real hope for man that inclines me to look for any hope in his ending; but the hope I find, I manufacture for myself; I don't see that he intended it.





You have a point there. I concede that perhaps you were right about Golding's intention skylarb, and yes, I would even agree that the hope I saw I actually manufactured for myself too. I know that my optimistic views regarding the ending differ drastically from those of other people, but I could never imagine having such a terrribly depressing outlook on life.


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#166533 - Sun Apr 27 2003 03:59 AM Re: Lord of the Flies
izzi Offline
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Quote:

You speak of remorse. I think Ralph weeps more for the misery caused by the loss of innocence than he does from any motive of repentance, but let us assume the boys are indeed remorseful. Still, remorse is not enough for what has happened in this book. Remorse cannot right this wrong.





Of course nothing can change the events which have already taken place, but remorse is a damn good starting point. I believe that there are very only very few people on this earth who are truly evil through and through and completely beyond redemption.

Skylarb, if you feel strongly that remorse is not enough, what would you feel to be a fitting punishment for these young boys? Would retribution or vengeance actually help?



Quote:


...Golding has swallowed--and has presented in a very compelling, convincing way--the Christian doctrine of Original Sin. But he has not offered the other side of the coin: the Christian doctrine of a Savior that can serve as a sufficient atoning sacrifice for the totality of that far-reaching sin.

Some call Simon a Christ figure--and the parallels are clear enough. But if he is, he is a dead savior, not a living one; he is a Christ without the resurrection. Society rejects him, kills him (like Christ)--only, he does not rise again. His death accomplishes nothing, expiates no sin. It is a needless, useless, futile tragedy.






Simon was the sacrifice, and his death was neither useless nor futile. He paid the ultimate price to atone for the sins of the others. It took his death to set Ralph and Piggy back on 'the straight and narrow". These two children represent the last vestige of hope for civilization and morality on the island.

Simon's final act of compassionate mercy before his death was to cut the strings entangling what was thought to be "the beast", the dead parachutist.

>>> quote

"Simon saw a humped thing suddenly sit up on the top and look down on him. He hid his face and toiled on. The flies had found the figure too. The life-like movement would scare them off for a moment so that they made a dark cloud around the head. Then as the blue material of the parachute collapsed the corpulent figure would blow forward, sighing, and the flies would settle once more. ...

The tangle of lines showed him the mechanics of this parody; he examined the white nasal bones, the teeth, the colours of corruption. He saw how pitilessly the layers of rubber and canvas held together the poor body that should be rotting away. ...

Then he took the lines in his hands; he freed them from the rocks and the figure from the wind's indignity"
<<<

The decomposing body represents a physical manifestation of the evils of the outside world. Society had killed him. Simon had shown the dead airman pity, and through his caring thoughtfulness the ties which had held him bound to this earth were broken, and he quite literally rose again.

Now that's what I call ironic!
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#166534 - Sun Apr 27 2003 07:46 AM Re: Lord of the Flies
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Quote:

Skylarb, if you feel strongly that remorse is not enough, what would you feel to be a fitting punishment for these young boys? Would retribution or vengeance actually help?




You misunderstand me. My point is not that punishment is in order; my point is that remorse is ineffective if it is not followed by atonement or salvation--but their salvation is not a hopeful one, as I mentioned, it's a warship. Therefore we are left with the picture that evil is at the heart of man, that it is a sad fact, but a fact that persists until the end of the novel and beyond; with no relief.

Quote:

Simon was the sacrifice, and his death was neither useless nor futile. He paid the ultimate price to atone for the sins of the others. It took his death to set Ralph and Piggy back on 'the straight and narrow". These two children represent the last vestige of hope for civilization and morality on the island.




I don't see this as a full atonement, I guess, because the salvation provided at the end of the novel is so negatively depicted--it is shown as a mirror of what is going on in the island, a warship stopping a war. But you do have a point here about the fact that it put Ralph back on "the striaght and narrow", which was something I overlooked. But if it did, it was help for only Ralph; not for "mankind" per say, which follows Jack.

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#166535 - Sun Apr 27 2003 07:51 AM Re: Lord of the Flies
skylarb Offline
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Quote:

So...you say it's magnificent, it affects you deeply, you are deeply impressed with Golding and you respect the book. So, why is it again, that you hate it?




Too depressing for my taste. No, I do like it, in the sense of--I think this is an excellent book and amond the top 40 or so I have read in my life.
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#166536 - Sun Apr 27 2003 01:22 PM Re: Lord of the Flies
izzi Offline
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My apologies skylarb, I had misinterpreted the meaning behind your words. I just meant that remorse was at least the first step towards repentance, but maybe remorse was too powerful a word to use under the circumstances and contrition would have been a better choice.
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#166537 - Wed Apr 30 2003 08:04 AM Re: Lord of the Flies
skylarb Offline
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Quote:

My apologies skylarb, I had misinterpreted the meaning behind your words. I just meant that remorse was at least the first step towards repentance, but maybe remorse was too powerful a word to use under the circumstances and contrition would have been a better choice.




Yes, they've taken the first step toward repentance, but what I don't like about the book is that Golding does not seem to offer the hope that there is an expiations for sin that follows repentance. War just follows repentance. The same old same old. Nevertheless, I do think this is an amazing book--obviously, there is much to mull over, as it has inspired such an enjoyable discussion, with differing, interesting views. I've enjoyed our book club!
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#166538 - Thu May 01 2003 05:29 PM Re: Lord of the Flies
izzi Offline
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I've gone over the final chapter again and reached the conclusion that if Golding had wanted to leave us with the lasting impression that man is so inherently evil that our future is beyond all hope, then it would have been very easy for him to do so.

Had the naval officer arrived on the beach to be met with the gruesome discovery of Ralph's decapitated head on a spike and the unsavoury scene of the boys tucking into a cannibalistic barbecue, then I would have no choice other than to agree with your interpretation skylarb.

As things stand, I'm happy to remain an eternal optimist.
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#166539 - Thu May 01 2003 09:05 PM Re: Lord of the Flies
ILuv2Teach Offline
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Quote:

if Golding had wanted to leave us with the lasting impression that man is so inherently evil that our future is beyond all hope, then it would have been very easy for him to do so.




I agree. If Golding wanted us to see the ending as a "human nature is inherently evil" message, he could have had the officer find some terribly awful scene upon arriving on the island. He could have had the boys murder the officer or something similar. Ralph could have met his untimely end on that island had the officer not shown up.

The fact that they were rescued at all says something for the optimist. I have to believe that the message here is not that man is evil deep down, but that even with all the evils in the world, that good does prevail.

Then again, I work with six-year old children all day, I have seen the future of humanity, and it isn't good so who knows?

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#166540 - Fri May 02 2003 01:57 PM Re: Lord of the Flies
skylarb Offline
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Quote:

I agree. If Golding wanted us to see the ending as a "human nature is inherently evil" message, he could have had the officer find some terribly awful scene upon arriving on the island.




He did find some terirbly awful scene upon arriving on the island!

Quote:

I have to believe that the message here is not that man is evil deep down, but that even with all the evils in the world, that good does prevail.




I think his point is the exact opposite. It's interesting how one book can inspire two polar opposite interpretations.

I think Golding wanted to leave that original sin / evil within impression. I got that impression from reading the book because of the parallels between the adult war and the children's war, the flippant nature of the naval officer when confronting this evil, the constant talk of the "beast within" throughout the novel, the fact that it closes with a weeping for the loss of innocence and a warship looming in the distance. Also, Golding said as much in his lectures on this book--he basically said he wanted people to read the book and to conclude that evil rises "simply and soley out of the nature of the brute." His tale is another version of the heart of darkness.

Nevertheless, this is a complex book, with more than a few ambiguities, which is one of the things that makes it so amazing.

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#166541 - Sat May 03 2003 02:39 PM Re: Lord of the Flies
izzi Offline
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Quote:

It's interesting how one book can inspire two polar opposite interpretations.




Interesting...yes, but not entirely surprising. Golding has taken care to leave so much unstated throughout his narration. From the outset he presents us with the details of circumstances and situations which, during the course of the story, gives us an insight into the transformation taking place in various characters, and shows us the gradual decline of law and order. Golding himself doesn't actually make moral judgements on any of the boys, with regard to their personality traits or behaviour. Instead he invites us to look at the ever changing relationships between the children, and to form our own opinions as to their character. He allows us to draw our own conclusions, guiding us all the while, but giving us the bare minimum of information to influence our thoughts either way. Each one of the events has been set out before us for a purpose, and all can be looked at from a different perspective or found, through symbolism and imagary, to have a deeper, hidden meaning.

Take one simple example from early on in the book: Jack and his choir arrived at the assembly point having marched along the beach in incredible heat. Even though some pleaded for permission to break ranks and sit in the shade, he commanded them stand to attention in the blazing sun until Simon eventually feinted. At that meeting Ralph was duly elected leader and one of his first decisions was to organise a 'reccie' of the island and he chose Simon, the very boy who had just passed out due to the effects of dehydration and heat exhaustion, as one of the party to join him.

Some would think that both boys had shown very poor leadership qualities in the decisions they had just made. Jack for insisting on such cruel discipline under those extreme conditions, thoroughly enjoying the power he could exert over the very boys he ought to have been protecting, and Ralph for choosing to take the recovering boy with him into the complete unknown. Others might have seen only good qualities in the leadership they had shown...how strongly Jack was portrayed in establishing regimental command and order, and how caring Ralph must have been because he wanted to keep such a close eye on Simon. A few would read straight through the same passage and might not see any significance whatsoever or form any opinion at all.

Is it any wonder that we can all find perfectly valid arguments to back up the conclusions that we reach, even though our reasoning might be very different from each other's? The same could be said of our opposing opinions of the ending.

Skylarb...take your assumption that the boys are being rescued only to face further hostility in an even greater war.

I say assumption because, apart from the occasional vague mention of the boys' hair and fingernails growing longer, we're not given any clear indication whether the boys have been stranded on the island for months or years. Or if the world is, in fact, still at war when they are finally rescued.

Quote:

And you can't get anymore pessimistic that this ending: "And in the middle of them...Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man's heart." And right after that huge downer of a note, the last thing we see is a warship in the distance. And so it ends.




>>> quote: final paragraph

The officer, surrounded by these noises (the children's sobbing), was moved and a little embarrassed. He turned away to give them time to pull themselves together, and waited, allowing his eyes to rest on the trim cruiser in the distance. <<<

Golding only mentions a "cruiser" in the background...not specifically a warship or a battleship. Either of which would have made it crystal clear that the war was actually still ongoing. Looking at it logically...if the naval officer was still at war, and had expected to find 'the enemy' on the island, would he really have gone ashore to investigate alone, leaving only a couple of ratings to back him up? More of Golding's ambiguities?

Quote:

Nevertheless, this is a complex book, with more than a few ambiguities, which is one of the things that makes it so amazing.





Agreed! The whole point, and what makes this such an excellent book, from my point of view, is that Golding has left things so wide open that we, as readers, can choose to interpret every detail exactly as we please.
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#166542 - Sat May 03 2003 03:31 PM Re: Lord of the Flies
ILuv2Teach Offline
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Yes, I think Golding purposely left some vagueness about the details for that very reason, so people could draw their own conclusions. He had his own views on how the world was and how humanity was but surely he did not expect the readers to cling to his views unceasingly.

Yes, Ralph did weep at the end, as did many of the other children. Was it for loss of innocence? Perhaps, but then why would they all be weeping? Did all of them understand "loss of innocence"...even the small children? Did Ralph REALLY weep for loss of innocence or was that the author's commentary on why he was weeping?

Well, I have a strong feeling that it was also out of relief. Can you imagine how many emotions and fears he had to hold inside in order to survive on the island with Jack and his tribe pursuing him? He had to push all of his fears down and survive strictly on logic and quick thinking. He was thinking only of how to live. And it started way before the chase through the forest, it was ever since Jack took on the opposing side and antagonized Ralph and his small band of supporters

Then when Ralph ran out onto the beach and saw the Naval officer standing there, he knew he was safe and after the shock had worn off, he was finally able to let the emotions and all the fear come out. He could let someone else take care of him and he did. He could go back to his life and "be a kid" again. He could go back to having minimal responsibilities but I think he would be forever changed by the experience, traumatized even, all of them would.

Were they going back to face a war? Perhaps. All we know is that a war was going on when they landed on the island. There is no indication of how long they were on the island. It could have been a week, a month, 3 mths, we just don't know. We also don't know if the war was still going on. If this was WWII, I hardly think they would be looking for an enemy on an island in the middle of the ocean. They knew where the enemy was...and it wasn't on an island. (I don't know of too many tropical islands near Germany) I think they just saw the smoke and went over to investigate. If the war was still going on, I don't think the Navy would be able to afford an officer just patrolling the ocean on a cruiser. They would need every naval man they could get, fighting the big fight.

As far as the officer coming onto the island to meet a horrible scene, think about what he DID see. All he saw was some dirty boys running out of a forest that was on fire. What I meant by "horrible scene" was he would come upon one of the boys being killed or something similar. What he saw couldn't have been THAT bad because he even commented, "What are you doing, playing war or something?"

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#166543 - Sun May 04 2003 01:00 AM Re: Lord of the Flies
izzi Offline
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Quote:

If this was WWII, I hardly think they would be looking for an enemy on an island in the middle of the ocean. They knew where the enemy was...and it wasn't on an island. (I don't know of too many tropical islands near Germany




We're not told anywhere in the book that this was World War II, or any war for that matter. We only assume that these British kids are being evacuated from a war zone, but as far as I can remember Golding doesn't specify any such thing in his narration.

In the first chapter Piggy said "Didn't you hear what the pilot said? About the atom bomb?" The atomic explosion could have been as a result of an accident for all we know. In fact, earlier in the chapter Ralph tells Piggy about his father. "He's a commander in the Navy. When he gets leave he'll come and rescue us".

People also assume that their plane had been shot down as the result of enemy fire, but what proof does Golding give us of that? It could just as easily have been pilot error or a mechanical fault...we are not told one way or the other.*

We have the parachutish landing on the island, of course, but even from that we only assume that he's a casualty of war, and if he is, we are never told of his nationality.

...
*Edit

My mistake... >>>quote

"That pilot" . . . "he must have flown off after he dropped us. He couldn't land here. Not in a plane with wheels."

"We was attacked!" . . . "When we was coming down I looked through one of them windows. I saw the other part of the plane. There were flames coming out of it."
<<<





Edited by izzi (Sun May 04 2003 04:43 AM)
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#166544 - Wed May 07 2003 01:51 PM Re: Lord of the Flies
skylarb Offline
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I think my reading is probably partially influenced by the external reading I've done on what Golding himself had to say about his intentions. which seem to be to depict the "terrible disease of bieng human" and to re-present another version of the Heart of Darkness.

This was a great group read, with lots to mull over! Thanks everyone.
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