Book Bannings: "Lord of the Flies" by William Golding
William Golding's "Lord of the Flies" is one of the most popular and controversial novels of the 20th century. It was the first book the man ever published and was his greatest success. It came out in 1954 and was initially mildly successful. However, it wasn't long before the quality of the book and its multiple, well-incorporated themes of good and evil made it must read for both education and enjoyment.
"Lord of the Flies" is the story of a group of boys who find themselves trapped on an uninhabited island. It seems that the boys were being evacuated by plane when their plane went down, killing all of the adults on board. This leaves them to sort out how to survive and behave without the guidance of adults. Eventually, the group splits with the more "evil" of the bunch in one group and the more "good" of the bunch in the other. However, the lines start to blur and fear of a "beast" on the island, which is actually just a dead man, drive the children a bit crazy. In the end, two of them are murdered by other boys and the structure of their island society becomes primeval.
What made "Lord of the Flies" so good was also what made it so controversial. Throughout the novel, there is profanity, mentions of sex, graphic violence, animalistic behavior, racism, religion, sexism and references to the consequences of fear, isolation and war. The way William Golding incorporates these themes, some of which are generally found offensive, was brilliant. The story is engaging, it suspends disbelief wonderfully and it evokes emotions in the way only a good novel can. Nonetheless, not everyone can stomach indelicate novels. Therefore, it has been challenged, repeatedly, for more than 50 years.
Despite attempts at banning the book, "Lord of the Flies" is required reading in classrooms throughout English speaking countries and even elsewhere. It is a great novel for sparking discussions on society, war, youth, human nature, fear, murder, justice, kindness, logic and much more. Its characters make great fodder for analysis and, best of all, it is an entertaining story. Thank goodness saner heads have prevailed and "Lord of the Flies" by William Golding remains on bookshelves.