Lord of the Flies by William Golding

What makes this short book such a delightful synopsis of human behavior is the slow unraveling of its characters’ well-thought out and planned systems. Lord of the Flies is a book about a bunch of schoolboys who are stranded on an island without grown-ups. They must fend for themselves until they are rescued. Slowly, they start to assemble their lives around civilized habits but inborn savagery soon starts to take over.

You can only either love this book or hate it. I was so enchanted by it that I finished it in a few hours, unable to let go. I became a part of the coral island which these little children co-inhabited. Having rated this book 5/5 stars, I wonder what rating I would have given it if I had read it as a schoolgirl. Its beauty lies in its simplicity. On the most basic level, it establishes primitive human instincts that we haven’t gotten rid of, despite centuries of well-crafted anthropological systems on which we live. We are afraid of the unknown. We are festooned with the ‘fight or flight’ instinct. Despite all our scientific discoveries, our flair for abstraction, our fascination with the charming unknown, we are scared. We will let our superstitions get the better of us, knowing as we do, that the orange-yellow flames are just a manifestation of combustion and not the wrath of an evil God. Knowing that our feelings of superiority are just nature’s way of helping us survive in a world where the odds are stacked against us. We fight the unknown by deluding ourselves. We pretend that the fantasies we hold are true. We give in to them. We defy what we know is good for us. We are unreasonable with our wrath and frugal with our love. We hold in high esteem the things that seek to bully us into submission, finding it easier to diminish our personal responsibility by piling the blame on another individual who may lead us so that we may blindly follow him, without having to decide for ourselves. We drown the voice of reason in the anger of our blindness, because after years of darkness, the light is unbearable to behold. And at the heart of this book lies The Lord of Flies, that dissent which is embedded within our hearts. We embrace Him because we are stunted and when a solution rises from within us, we grasp it with both hands without understanding.

This book was full of simple allegorical characters. I think every schoolkid should read it, discuss it and understand its implications. It was brilliant.

Most people would easily relate to one or the other character in this book. For me, it was the peace-loving Simon who sees through the vague fog of humanity’s unreasonable beliefs but is powerless to lead others away from it.

PS: So far I am really happy with the books I’ve read this year. It is my resolution to read far more insightful books in 2015 than I did in 2014. The purpose of this exercise is to not waste my limited resources on cheap thrills that do not contribute towards broadening the capacity and thinking-capabilities of my mind but on books that provide some sort of food for thought. It feels good to be doing well so far. Of course, I will occasionally turn to books which are purely entertaining, especially when I am exhausted by feeding my hunger for dystopia, but there too I will try to maintain some semblance of quality by consuming authors such as Ken Follett and Ian Rankin, for example.


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