Required Reading — Lord of the Flies

I’m part of a book club. We might as well call ourselves what we are, “The I Feel Guilty I’ve Never Read This Book Before” book club.

So, for August, they enthusiastically picked William Golding’s classic, Lord of the Flies. At least half the group had nothing to feel guilty about, but I was in the minority who felt guilt. Not crushing with this one, mind you. Only niggling. But still, guilt.

Here are my thoughts, pre- and post-book club discussion. (Early chatting with a friend made me think my mind may get changed here…)

Pre-Book Club Discussion

I could have lived with the guilt of never having read this one.

Yes, as far as the writing goes, Golding’s execution was very good. I was there, on that island, with the boys, shocked and horrified by what I was seeing.

But as I read, I hated every word of it. Yes, I realize, this is part of the point that Golding was trying to make. Left to our own devices without the the steadying influence of the “grown-ups,” be that church, or state, or parents, or the workplace, we will do hateful, awful things to each other.

My overall thought was this: If I had been assigned this book in high school, I think I might have enjoyed it. Why then and not now? Because now, in my early 30s, I’ve lived enough to know that this story isn’t fictional. I don’t need Golding’s morality tale to tell me that people are that cruel.

Post-Book Club Discussion

We talked a lot about how this book wouldn’t have worked if it was adults who crash-landed on an uninhabited island. We talked about the social contract and how for society to work, people have to give us rights in exchange for other things. We talked about how this was different than other dystopian YA flooding the market right now, because in those, the teenagers have an outside enemy to fight. Maybe Hunger Games is just as violent, but they are fighting against something (or for something, also).

It was a good discussion, but we all agreed that this book was tough as adults.

Anyone else revisited a high school required book like this and find it very different as an adult?

required reading wide


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