A very disturbing dystopian novel, probably because it concerns children and makes us human beings look even less human than some of the other ones I read. (See my list of dystopian novels here.)
What makes people behave in an inhumane way. In this case, children are left to their own device after a plane crash. We can tell from the beginning that there are two different kinds, some that see the final goal, they want to be saved and work for that, others that just want to have instant gratification, i.e. food and are willing to fight for that.
I can see why this novel has become so successful, it is not just the story being told but all the underlying hidden meanings, as well. There are signs everywhere. They boy with the glasses (Piggy), for instance, represents the first group, the more rational thinking.
As in most other dystopian novels, we can see the background of the novel easily. 1954, World War II had been over for almost a decade. Did people go back to being human and treat each other accordingly? I don't think William Golding saw it that way. On the contrary, he feared that there might be a repetition of the hell everyone had just been through, he had fought in the Navy himself so certainly had a lot of bad memories. He had seen that people were not born to be peaceful, that civilization was just a thin line that you could fall off any minute.
This is the main reason I love dystopian novels, it's another way of dealing with history and trying to avoid its repetition. It's another hope that there might be a peaceful time one day.
Great book, should be on everyone's reading list.
William Golding received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1983 "for his novels which, with the perspicuity of realistic narrative art and the diversity and universality of myth, illuminate the human condition in the world of today".
From the back cover:
"A plane crashes on an uninhabited island and the only survivors, a group of schoolboys, assemble on the beach and wait to be rescued. By day they inhabit a land of bright fantastic birds and dark blue seas, but at night their dreams are haunted by the image of a terrifying beast.
In this, his first novel, William Golding gave the traditional adventure story an ironic, devastating twist. The boys' delicate sense of order fades, and their childish fears are transformed into something deeper and more primitive. Their games take on a horrible significance, and before long the well-behaved party of schoolboys has turned into a tribe of faceless, murderous savages."