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Since it was first published in 1954, William Golding's classic debut novel has remained a stark allegory of civilization, survival, and human nature. As dystopian stories like Hunger Games and Battle Royale surge in popularity, this haunting tale of a group of young boys stranded on a desert island still captivates schoolchildren around the world, raising timeless and profound questions about how easily society can slip into chaos and savagery when rules and order have been abandoned.
When a plane crashes on a remote island, a small group of schoolboys are the sole survivors. From the prophetic Simon and virtuous Ralph to the lovable Piggy and brutish Jack, each of the boys attempts to establish control as the reality- and brutal savagery-of their situation sets in.
A teacher himself, Golding clearly understood how to interest children with a gripping story and strong, sympathetic characters. The novel serves as a catalyst for thought-provoking discussion and analysis of universal issues, not only concerning the capabilities of humans for good and evil and the fragility of moral inhibition, but beyond.
The boys' struggle to find a way of existing in a community with no fixed boundaries invites readers to evaluate the concepts involved in social and political constructs and moral frameworks. Symbolism is strong throughout, revealing both the boys' capacity for empathy and hope, as well as illuminating the darkest corners of the human spirit. Ideas of community, leadership, and the rule of law are called into question as the reader has to consider who has a right to power, why, and what the consequences of the acquisition of power may be.
Often compared to Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies also represents a coming-of-age story of innocence lost.