Monday, May 9, 2011

Great Books: Lord of the Flies

One of the highlights of my Senior English course is teaching Lord of the Flies. It's often taught a younger ages in other schools, but I use it as a "send off" for seniors. Reading Lord of the Flies is the last thing we do in class.

Why I consider Lord of the Flies a "Great Book":

The degeneration of a band of British school boys stranded on a deserted island during wartime is a frightening mirror for all human endeavors. Selfishness, greed, egoism, violence--all the ugly depths of the human psyche are laid open when the stress of survival pushes the kids too far.

The book plays with the dichotomy of civilization and savagery. As a nice parallel, the boys hunt pigs--swine are known to turn feral rather quickly when left to their own devices.

And then there's that Nobel Prize...

Favorite Line (*spoiler alert*):

"And in the middle of them, with filthy body, matted hair, and unwiped nose, Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of a man's heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy."

Sheer brilliance.

I, for one, am looking forward to Stephen King's introduction in the new edition celebrating the 100th anniversary of Golding's birth.

11 comments:

J. R. Tomlin said...

I have to agree. Sheer brilliance pretty much sums it up.

Angie said...

I love that book. I was blown away when I read it.

Milo James Fowler said...

A King intro? Very nice. RIP, Piggy.

Aaron Polson said...

J.R. - I think every "reality" TV show owes royalties to Golding.

Angie - The first time I read it and realized what happened to Simon, I was just stunned. I think I might have muttered "no they didn't" out loud.

Aaron Polson said...

I know, Milo. RIP indeed.

Michael Stone said...

I know I'm in a minority, but I really hated reading Lord of the Flies. I found it too contrived, tedious and...knowing, for want of a better word. As I was reading I kept thinking, "Yeah, I get it, no need to hit me over the head with it." All that bloody symbolism. I seem to recall being irritated by the number of em dashes to close lines of dialogue too, but that might be my memory playing me false.

But as long as your students like it, that's cool. :)

Alan W. Davidson said...

Very cool. I'm embarrassed to admit that I've never read it before (wasn't covered in our curriculum in school I guess).

Lisa said...

Hi Aaron! I wandered over from GoodReads, and I'm very excited to explore your site further. You have so much good information; thanks for the resource! (Also, I definitely agree about "Lord of the Flies"... I remember being so disturbed and bothered and amazed by it in high school.)

Kara McElhinny said...

This is a great book, Aaron -- have you ever read Battle Royale?

Similar, but different, in the very best way

Natalie L. Sin said...

I have "battle Royale", which has been called the Japanese "Lord of the Flies". Because fictional teenagers beating the crap out of each other is always thought provoking/rocks.

Danielle Ferries said...

I agree too. It's a fine study of the darker side of human nature.