Why ‘Lord of the Flies’ Is One of Most Raw, Real, and Intense Books You Can Ever Read

Lord of the Flies is an allegorical novel with themes of the human impulse toward civilization and the lack of it. On the surface, it is a simple story about preadolescent boys and their struggle for survival when their plane is wrecked on an island. But much like the ocean that holds a whole other universe beneath its calm, innocent waters, the book has so much more . It brings you face to face with the raw and ugly nature of humankind, and it does so without any pomp and ceremony, without any guardrails to prepare you, and without any exaggeration that you may use as an excuse for our species as a whole.

“Which is better? To have laws and agree? Or to hunt and kill?”

Lord of the Flies is riddled with symbolism — its characters, objects, backdrops, and even carcasses have an ulterior meaning. So much so that almost every time you read it, you can delve deeper. The story begins with the boys realizing they’re alone on an island with no adults, something that every kid dreams of. They behave responsibly, elect leaders, delegate tasks, and outline goals. We don’t realize it at that point in the book, but they — as a group — represent civilization in all its glory. As the story progresses, the boys tire of their duties and desire more power, which eventually leads to the degeneration of the group. A few boys even go on to become prime evil and commit heinous crimes. You’ll find yourself cringing at many a pages.

“Maybe there is a beast… maybe it’s only us.”

The true horror is that the events that transpire in Lord of the Flies are awfully relatable, and the emotions that drive the boys do reside in us in one shape or another. The book compels us to face the real face of humanity and the role that civilization plays in checking our baser instincts. In a way, it’s a very bleak view on our kind; all of evolution and development have but made us dress up our instincts. Strip away the costume, and we’re nothing but animals, fighting for power, fighting for the better part of land or food with spears.

“What are we? Humans? Or animals? Or savages?”

From a literary standpoint, Lord of the Flies is an interesting read. Golding makes use of many literary devices to create a vivid image and drive the point home without making the language too wordy and tedious to read. I recommend this book for anyone over 16, only because children don’t need such a bleak world view so early in life.