lord of the flies bookAre there any discrepancies between what the reader/character expects to happen?
This is a fairly predictable novel nearly from the beginning, it seems to me. I agree with the above post that the degree to which it happens is somewhat unexpected, but the opening scenes are fairly good indicators of where things are headed. There are a few unexpected developments there. After discovering they're trapped together on a deserted island without adults, you'd expect the boys to do a better job of working with one another. Instead, there is enmity from the start. Ralph has disdain for the fat little boy he meets, and he tells his secret (the name "Piggy") at the first opportunity just to get a laugh. We'd expect a choir who has presumably elected a good and effective leader to want to keep that leader; instead, they vote for him grudgingly and jump ship, so to speak, to support Ralph at the first opportunity. Once we sense that all will not be cooperation and community, the rest is fairly predictable--or at least not too surprising.
Simon's death is expected. As the Christ figure in a good vs. evil novel that shows the power of evil, his death, though horrific, is well foreshadowed. It's Piggy's death that takes one by surprise. However, I never saw Piggy's death coming. I knew that Jack's tribe would not listen to him, but I did not expect the response to Piggy to be that brutal, that savage, or by Roger.
Golding has prepared us for the deaths all along--even Piggy's with Piggy's confession that Jack hates him, Jack's idea to use the big rock as a weapon for an enemy, Roger throwing stones just to miss, the raiding of Ralph's camp for Piggy's glasses Yet, we don't want to believe that these characters can be so cruel and we react with horror as the murder on the island advances from negligence, to impulse, and finally to premeditated, first degree.
Most of my students are shocked by Simon's death, though we don't discuss Simon as a Christ figure until after he dies. At this point they usually are irritated at themselves for missing all of the clues. They are then prepared for another death, and while they're not completely shocked that Piggy is killed, they are often moved by the brutality of it. Actually, they are so distraught about this that when we voted the year's worst villain in June (we read LOTF in September!) they nominated (and eventually won) "The boulder that killed Piggy."
I don't think the boys are at all prepared for the brutality that comes out of themselves. Growing up in civilized societies, both the reading audience and the boys never assume these types of behaviors are normal for human beings. I think this is a big part of why this novel is so important to expose our students to. It demonstrates that when aspects of civilization are removed, human nature is to resort to other survival mechanisms. This is a careful warning we should heed just in case tragedies happen.
I expected for there to be conflict in this novel the first time I read it, but I was horrified by the extent of the violence and the viciousness of the murders. The interplay between the leaders of the two boys' groups is fascinating. Jack becomes a seriously disturbed antihero, and you simply cannot put the book down for wanting to find out what comes next. When the evil does expose itself, it is nothing less than terrifying. This novel is a masterpiece of modern British literature.
I think most editors above seem pretty united in stating that the violence itself was predictable. Golding seems to do his best to pave the way for it. However, where I think he does surprise us is by the quality of violence and the extent to which the boys abandon themselves to it. I think it is highly ironic that Golding chooses Jack, the choir boy, to represent the depths of human savagery. This, above all else, is what lingers on long after the book has finished.
I also find it striking that the boys fall victim to such savage behavior so quickly. It's hard to remember how I felt when I first read the novel, but I do recall being surprised by how willing and able such young children are to kill an animal--and soon, to take such pleasure in killing.
Otherwise, I completely agree that the events of the novel are rather predictable (though many students still seem shocked when Simon and Piggy die).
Upon my first reading of this book many years ago as a young teen, I was shocked by the brutality that the boys inflicted upon one another. Their murderous behavior seems somewhat tame by today's standards, but I never expected the boys to resort to killing one another. Choir boys were never so ruthless when I was growing up.
Concomitant to the descent of Jack and the hunters, there seems a discrepancy between Ralph's sensible behavior and his excitement and visceral involvement in a hunt. That Ralph becmes a savage, too, for a time seems rather out of character.