Human beings are thought to be the most developed organism on the face of the Earth. We are told time and time again that we are animals able to reason. But slowly, you encounter moments in life in which you doubt this; sometimes a human being can be so illogical or evil, that the reasoning ability it is supposed to possess cannot be found. After some time, you come to the conclusion that people are [were] never quite the way you thought they were. To me, this is the phrase that grasps the idea of this novel.
A group of children are stranded on an island with no adults. Golding does not expand on how they got there, how the plane crashed nor their background. The children, who are divided in bigguns and littluns, must devise a plan to be rescued and survive in the meanwhile. They must organize a society and choose Ralph as their Chief, Jack as the Hunter and Piggy stays as the brains behind it all, although he suffers the emotional torment of being the kid who everybody makes fun of.
At the beginning, everything runs as smoothly as possible, taking into account that these are kids running a society, they do not have the maturity of knowledge to always make the correct decisions, like keeping the fire alive and making sure there is a smoke signal for a ship to see in order to be rescued. At the beginning, everybody helps out and takes care of their designated task, but then the order of things takes a turn. Chores are not taken seriously and the opportunity of being saved slips away when a ship passes but the fire is not lit up and smoke is not rising from the island. Society must be put into order again.
Only, decided Ralph as he faced the chief’s seat, I can’t think. Not like Piggy.
Once more that evening Ralph had to adjust his values. Piggy could think. Be could go step by step inside that fat head of his, only Piggy was no chief. But Piggy, for all his ludicrous body, had brains. Ralph was a specialist in thought now, and could recognize thought in another.
“Things are breaking up. I don’t understand why. We began well; we were happy. And then —“
Society started to fall apart because of fear. The children had seen, or had thought, there was a beast on the island that was chasing them around and did not want them to be there. Everybody knows how fear messes up your mind.
“…I know there isn’t no beast-not with claws and all that, I mean-but I know there isn’t no fear, either.”
Ralph moved restlessly.
“Unless we get frightened of people”
This book is just so incredible because you see the fall of order in a society that was built on innocence, the best of intentions: being rescued. What could go wrong? Children have innocent hearts, don’t they? Lord of the Flies captivates you, it keeps you reading, it makes you think, shocks you, makes you wonder. How can everything go wrong? How can children do this? Why? Don’t they wish to be rescued? Is power truly so attractive that you must do anything to obtain it?
Two murders take place on the island while the children are rescued. Simon, a child who is believed to be crazy, and Piggy, the child that just wanted to be rescued and tried to help others as he could. They are killed in such bloody ways that you know by then that innocence has been lost; children are no longer naïve, but have become blinded by the thirst of power.
Now [the tide] it touched the first of the stains that seeped from the broken body and the creatures made a moving patch of light as they gathered at the edge. The water rose farther and dressed Simon’s coarse hair with brightness. The line of his cheek silvered and the turn of his shoulder became sculptured marble. The strange attendant creatures, with their fiery eyes and trailing vapors, buried themselves round his head. The body lifted a fraction of an inch from the sand and a bubble of air escaped from the mouth with a wet plop. Then it turned gently into the water.
… Sofly, surrounded by a fringe of inquisitive bright creatures, itself a silver shape beneath the steadfast constellations, Simon’s dead body moved out toward the open sea.
After Piggy is murdered, the whole island turns onto Ralph and a manhunt starts. He is the animal that must be killed. As he escapes from the rest of the children, the whole island catches fire. He runs trying to escape from the mob that is after him and wants to put his head on the end of a sharpened stick, like the pig head that was offered to the beast. He reaches the beach and is woken up by an officer.
Ralph looked at him dumbly. For a moment he had a fleeting picture of the strange glamour that had once invested the beaches. But the island was scorched up like dead wood-Simon was dead-and Jack had… The tears had begun to flow and sobs shook him. He gave himself up to them now for the fist time on the island; great, shuddering spasms of grief that seemed to wrench his whole body. His voice rose under the black smoke before the burning wreckage of the island; and infected by that emotion, the other little boys began to shake and sob too. And in the middle of them, with filthy body, matted hair, and unwiped nose, Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy.
A truly amazing glimpse into human nature. In the end, human beings are thirsty for power, no matter the rules that were made for order. And the most amazing thing is, children are not immune to evil.