The Lord of the Flies

Common Sense Media says

Gripping story of marooned schoolboys and their savagery.





What parents need to know

Educational value

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.

Positive messages

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.


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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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The 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.

Parents say

Kids say

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?


The 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.


Families can talk 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?

  • The Lord of the Flies is considered a classic and is often required reading in school. Why do you think that is?

Book details

Author:William Golding
Genre:Literary Fiction
Topics:Adventures, Friendship
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:January 1, 1954
Number of pages:304

This review of The Lord of the Flies was written by

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Teen, 14 years old Written byAwalkeratCSM March 28, 2012

A thoughtful entree for smart teens served to you by mindful, extraordinary author

I have "Lord of the Flies" to thank for getting me to really like my English teacher (oh, the discussions we had and the allegorical insight she gave me!) and opening my eyes to the magic of allegories. An expertly crafted allegory that can be seen from a political (I think), religious, and social perspective, "Lord of the Flies" is a book that I highly recommend only to smart, mature teens who can read past the lines of a tale of savagery and survival and see a thought-provoking, viewpoint-changing message of the necessity and importance of civilization or religion, depending on what viewpoint you're seeing the story through. The story surrounds the crashing of a plane full of British school boys and the events that follow as the boys, who survive the plane crash unlike the grown ups that attended them, try to survive on the island and maintain a sane, orderly environment until the grown ups see their signal fire. Mature, blonde, and attractive Ralph is initially chosen as the leader of the band of survivors, and makes his main purpose the maintainment of the signal fire. Choir leader Jack, a dominating individual with an evil intent as dangerously red as his hair, tries to do his part in helping the group survive by attempting to hunt the pigs that thrive on the island, but instead awakens a blood-thirstiness within him that is not just dangerous to the swine on the island. What follows is conflict within the "tribe" of boys, the sudden entrance of a fearful beast on the mountain top of the island, savagery conducted by Jack against other boys, tragic deaths, and a heart-racing ending that isn't quite epic: heart-wrenching, destructive, and a conclusion full of closure and realization for both the reader and the characters. In the copy of the book loaned to me for school, a former student who used the book wrote in permanent, blue ink on a front page "Golding's question: what will happen to humanity when the bonds of civilization are loosed?". I see this question as a one posed from a social perspective, and Golding makes it quite clear through his expert penmanship that if we have no rules to live by, or grown ups to censor and correct us, we will be unable to survive in a peaceful, orderly society. By a religious perspective, you could rewrite the sentence as "Golding's question: what will happen, or what is happening, to humanity if we lose spiritual order and morals?"; if we do not have God's influence in our lives, we will subsequently fail in life morally and spiritually, and have something else happen to us that I can't specify because I would be leaking a big spoiler at the very end of the novel. I loved how I could find meaningful symbols on every detailed page, a clear connection between the allegory to real life, irony that made me laugh at the world alongside what was going on in the book, three different perspectives of the allegory, and a whole lot of meaning about society and our lives. Golding was a drag to read at times, especially if you had a big project on your mind or it was a nice day outside, but if I just plowed through it, I could get what he was saying and place all the jigsaw pieces of descriptions together to make a big, detailed picture of the allegory he was expertly crafting. The characters made wonderful symbols from the intellectuals and scientists we often go to for knowledge and technology to the mature leaders we heavily rely on to make big decisions for our nation, city, or, in the case of the allegory, tribe. I wondered once or twice, after finishing the novel and getting a good grade on my efforts in English on it, if Golding had written any other meaningful, worthwhile literature that pointed out dangerous aspects of our human nature that are so gracefully bound by rules of civilization and laws of morality and society; I hope that who ever reads this novel also comes away with a respect for this author and the no doubt many years he spent putting together his ideas into this allegory. Violence is the biggest issue in this novel. Several characters are killed in this novel, though the murder is far from glamorized. One character is thought to have died in an accidental forest fire caused by some of the other characters. Characters get wounded while having a spear fight, though nothing graphic is depicted. Language comes next in mature content, with a-s and maybe a few other questionable words. Sexuality? Let me point out that there are no girls whatsoever on the island, so there are no soppy romances or kisses to have to keep your eye out for (Sorry romance-lovers!) Just an occasion where boys go swimming nude, but Golding doesn't go into detail about their looks. In fact, as a discussion prompter, one should talk with other readers of this novel about how the book would have been different had it been girls who were stranded on the island, or both boys and girls on the island. You should also look up why Golding used boys in his novel and not girls; it gives a lot of credit to girls, by the way. Over all, there is very little mature content to look out for in this novel by today's standards, especially if the readers are thirteen and up as I suggest. There aren't exactly "good role models" in this book, all the characters are symbols of religions or types of people. But Ralph is resilient, and tries his utmost best to make good decisions for the tribe. Piggy is a great help to the boys and Ralph, and is very smart. Simon is quiet, caring (especially to the little boys in the tribe), righteous, and very spiritual, which I personally found very gratifying. I found it to be a great allegory for thoughtful, smart teens who like message-laden masterpieces in literature and long discussions with their English teacher. Thirteen and up and five full stars for "Lord of the Flies"!
What other families should know
Educational value
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Kid, 10 years old March 27, 2012


Im reading it. Seems pretty Nice so far. A wonderful way of saying The message, But Newer Readers may not get it. And without the message, The book Crumbles. So new readers will probably be all like,"WTH?" Unless they get the message. Not nesesarily? violent.Well. Idk Yet.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Teen, 13 years old Written byTripFoot March 26, 2012

One of the Best Books Ever!

Everything is said in Common Sense Media's review. This book is truly amazing.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models


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