The first time I read William Goldings Lord of The Flies, I was in sixth grade, the approximate age of many of the children in the novel. If you’ve never read it–or perhaps even if you have–the story is more complex than it seems: kids get marooned on island and turn into tribes that eventually start killing each other. But that’s usually as deep into the book as many of its detractors care to go. There’s a lot more.
The sixth-grade me that read the book was incredibly disturbed. The 33 year old me that just read the book again in February of 2011 finds it just as disturbing. I think I’d be unsettled if I picked it up one day and found that it didn’t rattle me.
But it happens. I recently had a discussion with a 12 year old boy in the library. He thought the book was boring, a viewpoint that certainly isn’t confined to children. I’ll admit, much of the book is pretty dry. When I asked him what books he loved, he immediately started talking about The Hunger Games. I loved that one as well, but in my mind, it’s the same story as LOTF. Kids forced to fight in an arena. Just like Battle Royale, which he also mentioned. These are what he would have called adventure books for young adults.
The difference between those books and Lord of the Flies is primarily, in my opinion, the paucity of graphic violence in the original. The scene where the boys kill the pig is by far the most savage in terms of detail and allotted word count. I may be wrong, but I have not heard the amount of outrage about these more recent books. When Lord came out there was some serious unhappiness. On the other hand, when Mockingjay came out, we had a midnight release party at the library and transformed the lower urban room into an arena for games and laughs.
But The Hunger Games and Battle Royale are incredibly graphic. Not only are kids pitted against one another, it happens as entertainment, at the whims of adults. This boy liked the books that much more because they were bloody. I’m not assuming–that is what he told me.
This isn’t meant as one of those “Kids these days…” rants. I wasn’t sure how I felt about what he said. I’m still not. Here’s my question for you that have read Lord of The Flies: did you enjoy it? Why or why not? Is it more disturbing than other similarly-themed books “these days?”