I’m pretty sure that the first time I read this book, I was in 8th grade and our class read it together. I only remember the basics of the book from that reading: a plane full of English school boys crashes on a deserted island, and they slowly become savage. And one boy was named Piggy.
The second time I read this was probably within the past ten or twenty years or so, and I remember thinking – this is much scarier than I remembered.
I just read it again, and it is heart stopping. I read the last forty some-odd pages with my heart in my throat. This is where the majority of the boys – the tribe that has chosen to follow Jack instead of Ralph – have completely lost their sense of civility and humanity and are straight out hunting down another human. Sure, a couple others had already been killed… but those were accidents. Right?
It starts slowly, with the realization that there are no grown-ups on the island and it’s up to them to survive until they can be rescued. They also need to do what they can to aid in their rescue – like keep a fire going in hopes that a passing ship will see it. But they slowly break apart into factions. There are those who are becoming hunters and just want to have fun, those that are building shelter, and trying to keep order, and those that are just too young for much besides following. You can see the mob mentality take over as well, and help fuel the fire of their savagery.
This book is brilliant in its writing, and truly is more suspenseful than I remembered. Of course, now being mother to two boys might have a little something to do with that too.
Lord of the Flies
by William Golding
Penguin 2013. First published 1954.