Through The Skull Of A Wild Pig
Lord of the Flies, by William Golding (Capricorn Books, 1959, 256 pp., paper, $1.25), is reviewed by William H. Anderson, Jr., Minister, United Presbyterian Church of the Redeemer, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Just about everyone missed this book when it was first published in England in 1954 as a first novel by an unknown writer. Now Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye has been succeeded as collegiate reading by this novel by William Golding. Golding has since had several other novels published, but as yet nothing that measures up to Lord of the Flies has appeared.
This novel has much to say to Christians, but it is not religious fiction. The imaginative story tells of the fate of a group of young boys, ranging in age from five to twelve, cast loose on an uninhabited island as a consequence of World War III. The chief characters are Ralph, the civilized leader; Piggy, the intellectual; Simon, the mystic; Jack, the savage leader; and Roger, Jack’s right-hand man. For the most part the rest of the boys are merely the mass of people. The narrative is an account of the change in the group from a civilized reasonable society to a savage tribe. In the course of this change, the intellectual Piggy and the mystic Simon are cruelly killed by the boys under the brutal leadership of Jack. The title comes from a mystical experience of Simon’s where the Lord of the Flies (the Hebrew Ba’alzevuv, Lord of Insects, the devil) speaks through the skull of a wild pig.
The concealed basic wildness which emerges whenever human nature is faced by a threat to itself is the theme of the book. Although there is no overtly sexual passage, yet the picture of human nature presented here is far more terrible and bestial than that ...1
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