Lord of the Flies, William Golding

An easy, impulsive, nostalgic read. I picked Lord of the Flies out of the library while home for the holidays, and recalled it fondly from when I first read it in high school. Below are some thoughts:

  • Do all English teachers feel an obligation to impute political allegories on literature, or just mine? I recall my high school lecturer had strong opinions about characters representing political systems, but I think its a stretch
  • The trichotomy of Ralph, Jack, and Piggy maps easily onto the Team America World Police political spectrum (NSFW)
  • Ralph, as the physical protector of Piggy and persuasive advocate for his ideas, is a good model for Effective Altruists whose comparative advantage is communication.
  • Growing up in a secular household, the biblical undertones (initial paradise, fall from grace, Simon’s temptation by the pig’s head and subsequent sacrifice, the gradual fall to evil before 11th-hour salvation) were completely lost on me until this re-read

Some good passages I highlighted, mostly exploring the interpersonal power dynamics of Ralph’s leadership:

*

Ralph’s final word was an ingracious mutter.

“All right. Light the fire.”

With some positive action before them, a little of the tension died. Ralph said no more, did nothing, stood looking down at the ashes round his feet. Jack was loud and active. He gave orders, sang, whistled, threw remarks at the silent Ralph—remarks that did not need an answer, and therefore could not invite a snub; and still Ralph was silent. No one, not even Jack, would ask him to move and in the end they had to build the fire three yards away and in a place not really as convenient. So Ralph asserted his chieftainship and could not have chosen a better way if he had thought for days. Against this weapon, so indefinable and so effective, Jack was powerless and raged without knowing why. By the time the pile was built, they were on different sides of a high barrier.

*

No one said anything but the faces turned to Ralph were intent. He flourished the conch. He had learnt as a practical business that fundamental statements like this had to be said at least twice, before everyone understood them. One had to sit, attracting all eyes to the conch, and drop words like heavy round stones among the little groups that crouched or squatted. He was searching his mind for simple words so that even the littluns would understand what the assembly was about. Later perhaps, practised debaters – Jack, Maurice, Piggy – would use their whole art to twist the meeting: but now at the beginning the subject of the debate must be laid out clearly.

*

Power lay in the brown swell of his forearms; authority sat on his shoulder and chattered in his ear like an ape

 

Verdict: 9/10, a short, easy, fun read with a high insight-to-reading time ratio.