"Lord of the Flies" Essential Question: How did Golding's biography re-shape or affect your interpretation of the novel?

Essay by nikolapico December 2006

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William Golding's novel, "Lord of the Flies" is an interesting story addressing the issues of political systems, human nature, natural human conflict, and self-survival instincts of humans. As I read this book for the first time, I was surprised by the lack of labels and connections between the characters, and the speech. The quotations also contained incorrect grammar, and incomplete sentences such as when Piggy was stating that "'--a conch; ever so expensive....--he had it on his garden wall, and my auntie--'" (16). This made it difficult to identify the speaker and understand the dialogue, but it gave a surprisingly realistic tone to the conversations of the children in the story. After reading the biography, I realized that Golding was a teacher in a school of young boys. This helped me understand how he could create the realistic characters in the novel.

As the story continues to develop and the older children develop the political system, the idea of necessary leadership is proven.

Golding shows how a form of government will naturally be put into place in a group of society, in order to make progress. The group decides to use a republic system to vote for a leader who would keep order and make decisions. Ralph suggests that idea by telling the group "'seems to me we ought to have a chief to decide things'" (22). As I continued reading the story, I believed that Golding's emphasis was on the flaws and necessities of an organized government. After reading the biography, I realized that the story was actually aimed at proving that the flaw lies within the people in society, instead of in the systems themselves.

Golding discovered this in his own lifetime, after being involved in the Royal Navy during World War II. The war allowed people to understand that the systems in a society are generally reliable, but the nature of human beings is more evil than it is often realized. He proves this by showing the collapse of a sufficient democratic republic, due to the arrogant and greedy nature of single people.

I also assumed that Golding chose the scenario of the children stranded on a deserted island in order to display the uprising and downfall of power in a self-sufficient group. I realized after reading the story that he chose that situation mainly because he had been interested in stories such as Coral Island, and Tarzan of the Apes as a child. These stories, however, had the common idea of a pure and innocent man who was corrupted by society. He changes that theory in his novel, by attempting to prove that the inverse is true, and that society is usually damaged by individuals with avaricious and malevolent ideas. He witnessed this evil in the war, and he displayed these ides through situations such as the theft of the fire and spectacles of Piggy, and the burning of the thicket in attempt to kill the relatively innocent Ralph.

As I read this biography, and related it to the novel, I was able to realize the influence Golding's life had on his story. It also helped identify the points that he attempted to prove to the audience throughout the story, with the symbolism and seemingly exaggerated situations. I enjoyed and learned a lot from this book.