Cover of Lord of the Flies

I wasn’t quite sure what I’d taken on when I started reading Lord of the Flies. The book starts off with a bunch of ship wrecked boys on what they later ascertain to be an island. A conch is found by Ralph and the boy with the glasses. The piercing note gathers the scattered littluns and the biguns into a rag-tag assembly and here starts their fledgling attempts at doing things like the grown-ups.

I thought I knew where the book was going, when I read: “We’ve got to have rules and obey them. After all, we’re not savages. We’re English, and the English are best at everything.” It reminded me of this exchange from the film version of The Bridge on the River Kwai:
Commander Shears: You mean, you intend to uphold the letter of the law, no matter what it costs?
Colonel Nicholson: Without law, Commander, there is no civilization.
Commander Shears: That’s just my point; here, there is no civilization.
Colonel Nicholson: Then we have the opportunity to introduce it. 🙂

Little did I know that Golding’s book went deeper, and certainly beneath the veneer of civilization. Ralph and the voice of reason have a wobbly hold on the rag-tag team, trying hard to keep up a smoke signal that would aid their rescue. Jack has his merry band of choir-hunters hunt and the others rig up shelters. However, the inevitable, impending future looms eerily, like the creepers that envelope the forest, till finally the Beast takes over. And Simon sees it first. A land without rules or repercussions, the spirit daring to dream and do like never before. What will it choose?

It is heart wrenching to read of Ralph’s hope when he thinks that they are only human, and what could they possibly do, when he slowly realises that the ‘Beast’ is real. As real as fear, as real as him. Golding’s telling commentary of human nature ‘Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!’ and ‘You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you?’ as he speaks of the lurking savage in the heart of Man, was spot on and weaves through the book, through the characters of the various boys, leaving us to think ,as we put down the book we’re not so different after all. One could despair of this realization. Or one could realize that it’s not such a new thought after all.

Romans Chapter 8 chillingly says “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the (Holy) Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so“. Lord of the flies is a stark example of this truth. But, not surprisingly, the Book with all the answers says in 2 Peter chapter 1, “He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may particiapte in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires“. Golding gave us the truth, but Jesus gives us the truth that delivers.