Lord of the Flies
By Kenneth Butler,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Gripping story of marooned schoolboys and their savagery.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers will come away from Lord of the Flies with a grasp of the book’s basic premise: that some individuals, deprived of the rules and restrictions of society, will revert to primitive savagery. This central thesis of learned and imposed morality vs. natural brutality is found on every page. They will also learn something about survival on an unpopulated island.
The positive message is simple but clear: An individual’s personal choice ultimately dictates behavior in any given situation. Like Elie Wiesel’s Night and The Diary of Anne Frank, The Lord of the Flies demonstrates that it is possible to retain individual humanity in appalling situations, and that people are capable of selflessness, even when their own lives are at stake. When awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, Golding was lauded for his deep concern for humanity.
Positive Role Models
Ralph is the story’s protagonist, but it seems early on that Ralph’s insistence on remaining civilized in primal circumstances may be more conditioned than genuine. Still, this argument underscores the value of ethics (as opposed to morals) in collaborative situations. Piggy is brainy and logical, and certainly represents the human quest for enlightenment and reason, but his scientific and intellectual status is compromised by a whiny personality. Only Simon, who looks after the younger boys, seems naturally kind and good, as if born that way.
Violence & Scariness
One boy is bullied. Two characters are murdered. There is a brief torture sequence. Boys hunt a pig and poke a sharp stick up his rear end while he is still alive. In addition, the setting and atmosphere are fraught with the potential for violence.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Lord of the Flies has been described as dark, brutal, pessimistic, and tragic. Yet it deals with a fundamental issue of humanity: Are people naturally prone to evil? This and other issues in this novel would be invaluable for parent-child discussion, on both theological and humanist levels.
Where to Read
Based on 12 parent reviews
Great book for deep discussion
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the classic of savagery
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What's the Story?
Marooned on a tropical island, a group of British schoolboys are left to fend for themselves, unsupervised by any adults. At first, the boys enjoy their freedom, playing and exploring the island, but soon the group splits into two factions -- those who attempt to preserve the discipline and order they had learned from society, and those who choose to give in to every instinct and impulse, no matter how barbaric.
Is It Any Good?
Lord of the Flies has been a perennial favorite since its first publication in 1954, and this excellent novel is a deserved staple of school reading lists. Golding keeps his prose unadorned and straightforward, and the result is a page-turning entertainment, as well as a highly thought-provoking work of literature.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about whether individuals are born "good" or "evil" -- is our behavior always the result of choice?
How is it that good people are capable of bad behavior, and vice versa? How do you think you might behave under the circumstances of the novel?
Is it always best to sacrifice your own wants and needs for the common good of a community?
What might some of the prominent elements of the story -- the conch, Piggy’s glasses, the sow’s head, the island’s "beast" -- symbolize?
Lord of the Flies is considered a classic and is often required reading in school. Why do you think that is?
- Author: William Golding
- Genre: Literary Fiction
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Perigree
- Publication date: January 1, 1954
- Number of pages: 304
- Last updated: August 31, 2015
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