To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement: Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, is a terrifying novel.

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is, of course, a subjective question, and your teacher undoubtedly wants to hear your thoughts after reading the novel. For me, the actual events in William Golding's Lord of the Flies are not as disturbing as what they mean. Golding says he wrote this book in "an attempt to trace the defects of society back to the defects of human nature." To do that, he places these proper English schoolboys on a deserted island with no adults. This group of boys can choose to make whatever kind of society they want, and in the end they commit multiple murders and nearly destroy the entire island.

None of the boys, except Piggy, is very interested in doing the smart things they need to do to keep from disintegrating into chaos; instead they do whatever they want. That does not disturb me because I can understand it.

None of the boys hesitate to follow Jack, the man who wears face paint and gives them meat, despite the fact that he is not a particularly good person or an effective leader. The boys are lured (and later coerced) into becoming part of Jack's tribe. I understand this, too.

Even Simon's death is not too much for me to understand. It is a dark, stormy night, and the boys are caught up in a kind of beast-hunting frenzy when they see a creature crawling toward them. I do not like it, but I kind of understand it.

Roger dropping a boulder on Piggy is not a surprising thing for this cruel boy to do, so I understand it even while I hate it. And when Jack orders his tribe to kill Ralph, I know Jack simply wants to eliminate any impediment to his absolute authority.

What I find most appalling and terrifying  is how quickly these proper boys who know how to follow rules were transformed into murdering savages. Piggy asks “What are we? Humans? Or animals? Or savages?” Golding answers that question, and the answer is what makes this novel so frightening. Lord of the Flies is a terrifying commentary on the nature of man when he has nothing to keep him accountable but his own wishes and desires. 

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Lord of the Flies

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