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Lord of the Flies

by William Golding
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Write a reflection on the TED Talk "Jill Bolte Taylor—My Stroke of Insight." Can you make any connections with the characters in Lord of the Flies?

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In her TED Talk entitled "My Stroke of Insight," Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain scientist, speaks about her experience having a stroke. She also speaks, while holding an actual brain, about the differences between the two hemispheres of the brain.

She explains, "our right hemisphere, it thinks in pictures and it learns kinesthetically through the movement of our bodies" (see the link to the transcript of her talk below). The right hemisphere is connected to what is happening at that moment, and it processes the sensory information related to that moment. In many ways, Jack in Lord of the Flies typifies the right side of the brain, as he is concerned with the bodily movements of hunting and with the here-and-now, rather than the future. For example, he does not care whether the boys are rescued or not, and he is not rational or linear in his thinking. He instead concentrates only on the moment and his sensory experiences of the moment.

Jill Bolte Taylor also speaks about the left hemisphere of the brain. She says, "our left hemisphere thinks linearly and methodically. Our left hemisphere is all about the past and it's all about the future" (see the link to her video and the transcript of her video below). In many ways, Piggy in Lord of the Flies exemplifies the left brain's emphasis on order and rational thinking, as well as its focus on the future. He wants to get rescued, and he spends his time thinking rather than hunting. He is rational and civilized, and he does not take part in sensory experiences but instead focuses on intellectual experiences.

The speaker in this TED Talk also mentions the corpus callosum, which connects the two hemispheres of the brain and helps them communicate with each other. Ralph in Lord of the Flies is like the corpus callosum, as he is the intermediary between the savagery and immediate action of Jack, the hunter, and the careful, rational thinking of Piggy. For example, Piggy is the person who convinces Ralph to use the conch, the symbol of order, to call the boys together. Ralph does not think of using the conch on his own, but when he does so, he engages in a left-brained experience of the world. However, Ralph also delights in stabbing pigs and hunting, so he has moments of engaging in a more sensory, right-brained approach to the world. Therefore, Ralph is like the intermediary between the two halves of the brain, the corpus callosum. You may have other reactions and connections to the TED Talk.

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