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Title: Lord of the Flies
Author: William Golding
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Publication Date: 1954
Summary: When a plane crashes on a remote island, a small group of schoolboys are the sole survivors. From the prophetic Simon and virtuous Ralph to the lovable Piggy and brutish Jack, each of the boys attempts to establish control as the reality – a brutal savagery – of their situation sets in.
The Conch Chooses the Leader
At the sound of the shell, Jack enters the assembly with his choir. They are dressed in matching garb, marching in parallel lines in almost perfect succinctness. He exudes the confidence of a more than ready leader. He is even the first person to bring up the need to for a rescue plan. Although the choir unanimously voted him leader, the others in the group were swayed only by the conch. At this moment, the boy who holds the conch holds the power, and that boy is Ralph. In hindsight, it is obvious that Jack is not yet prepared for this responsibility because he lacks the maturity of dealing with not getting his way. This seemingly simple act of voting for a group leader takes Jack down a dark path that forever affects the group dynamic. Jack is determined to show the others their mistake in electing Ralph as the group’s leader.
Chief vs Chief
When Jack enters the hunter’s tunnel, he can see nothing else. He once exclaimed the importance of getting rescued. Now he scoffs at the most feasible rescue plan because hunting and getting meat has now topped his To Do List. Although Jack insinuates Ralph is obsessed with the keeping the fire lit, it is Jack who is obsessed with hunting and nothing else. Jack’s ready to make a life on the island because being on the island has allowed him to become his most uninhibited self. Behind the painted face and long hair, Jack is “liberated from shame and self-consciousness.” He has grown more brazen and feels the strength and courage to take the role of chief from Ralph. With the lure of fun without responsibility, the allure of Ralph as leader began to dwindle. Once Jack becomes Chief of the Savages, he is drunk from this newly anointed power and only wants more. Deep inside, Jack knew he couldn’t be the true Chief as long as Ralph was still around to spout reason, rule, and order. However, the test of a true leader comes when the naval captain asks who is the one responsible for the group.
The novel explores the conflict between individual desire and the common good of the group. Jack Merridew is the epitome of this struggle. In the beginning he is a proper choir boy who understands the importance of responsibility and order. By the end, he has lead a coup d’etat and been responsible for the death of fellow survivors. Jack is unable to resist the hunger to be the leader at any and all costs. In the end, this pursuit of individual desire over what is beneficial for the entire group costs Jack Merridew and the others their innocence of childhood.
The book is both dark and dated. It is off-putting to think of kids actually killing one another, but it is 2017. Mass shootings barely make a blip in national news these days, and we may soon have our own Hunger Games thanks to the election of President
The Final Grade
Laborious Literature: I know people LOVE this book, and it’s a staple in high school English classes across the country because of its themes and symbolism, but it definitely wasn’t my cup of tea. There were some great parts toward the end of the book, but it was a struggle to get there.
So…is this book one of your faves? Did you read it in high school? Are you Team Jack or Team Ralph? Let us know in the comments! |RL