Book: Lord of the Flies
Author: William Golding (1911-1993)
Connection with ABC-TV’s LOST: The official LOST website links the book to episode 115 (Homecoming) where Sawyer mentions the book when he captures Jin, thinking he has burned the raft. The obvious connection between the show and the book is that both begin with a plane crash on an uninhabited island.
Review of the Book- Warning: Spoilers
The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien was published in three parts in 1954 and 1955. Coincidentally, another novel by with a similar name was published in 1954. Its author was also an Oxford graduate, whose was name William Golding. Lord of the Flies, like the trilogy, is about the conflict between good and evil. But while Rings is about an evil power set on taking over Middle-earth, Flies is more about the evil power within each of us.
A group of British schoolboys, raised on discipline and good manners, crash on an uninhabited island with no adults. Ranging in ages from about six to twelve, the boys choose Ralph, one of the older boys, as their leader. At first, everyone cooperates and does their part to build shelters and keep a fire going so that they can be spotted by any passing ship.
But the irresponsibility of childhood soon sets in, and most of the group decides to follow another leader who is more set on hunting and having fun. Despite Ralph’s pleas that they continue to do the important things, the irresponsibility deteriorates into depravity and the death of three of the boys. The “Lord of the Flies” in the book is a symbol of the corruption happening to the castaways.
Most see nothing in the book but hopelessness stemming for our depraved human nature. At the end of the book, a British officer comments, “I should have thought that a pack of British boys … would have been able to put up a better show.” But the author did not believe a good British upbringing would be enough. The Fiftieth Anniversary edition of the book includes a quote from Golding himself about the theme of the book (p. 290):
The theme is an attempt to trace the defects of society back to the defects of human nature. The moral is that the shape of a society must depend on the ethical nature of the individual and not any political system however apparently logical or respectable. The whole book is symbolic in nature except the rescue in the end where the adult life appears, dignified and capable, but in reality enmeshed in the same evil … 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. And who will rescue the adult and his cruiser?
Just before the rescue, the children have set the island on fire in order to chase Ralph out of hiding. Ironically, it is their blind hatred for their former leader that is the catalyst for their rescue, as the ship has spotted the fire. If they had not been spotted, the island would have been stripped of its food supply, and they all soon would have died.
For some reason, Golding was unable to bring the book to its logical conclusion. Perhaps he held out more hope for mankind than he was willing to admit. But what about his question? Who will rescue the adult? Who will rescue humankind from its destruction?
The answers to our problem, to the evil within, must come from outside ourselves. In our hunting and fun we often refuse to keep the signal fires lit–we refuse to admit our need of rescue. But God sees the bareness of our lives and is ready to rescue us if we let Him.