Sunday, July 6, 2008

William Golding: Lord of the Flies

Who else had to read this in high school? We had this one year, I think it might have been sophomore English class with Mr. Seidel, where we had to read all these very depressing novels. Lord of the Flies, Catcher in the Rye, and a couple others along those lines. It seemed dangerous to me at the time, because if you were already a little bit bummed out, the books we had to read would have really pushed you over the edge.

I was at our library recently, stocking up on some books for summer, when this caught my eye. I thought my oldest might be interested in it, since he's an avid reader, and then I thought perhaps I would re-read it myself, wondering what the effect would be after all this time. I remember that reading it as a high school student, certain things in the book just didn't seem clear to me, and it always had this air of mystery to it for me.

Well, re-reading Lord of the Flies didn't have quite the same effect on me as when I saw the original Willie Wonka movie in college (I was amazed at how many things in that movie simply flew over my head as a kid), but I definitely "got" certain plot elements much better this time around. Especially the whole thing about the kids having confused a parachutist who crashed on the island as some kind of a "beast". Golding is sometimes very subtle in his way of describing certain things and you have to be reading with attention not to miss things.

The other thing that was interesting was reading it with the perspective of being a mom of three boys as opposed to being a teenage girl which gave me much more compassion and sympathy for the boys on the island. I felt sorry for them that things went so terribly wrong.

Another thing that was fun about reading it again was realizing how much the makers of the television series "Lost" must have been influenced by this book. Only a brilliant novel could still inspire us like that 50 years on.

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