(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Golding’s major thematic matter was that human beings are born with a capacity for and perhaps tendency toward evil; that is, there is a kind of original sin, even though this sin is probably a biological, not theological, fact. His most famous book, Lord of the Flies (1954), is a thoroughgoing demonstration of his beliefs.

The Inheritors extends the concept. The people are Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden before the Fall, before the entry of sin into the world. Their legends tell of a time when there was no end to summer and when flowers and fruit existed together. They have no technology. Although they have fire, they depend upon lightning for it. That is, they live with nature rather than exploiting it. To kill animals is a bad thing. They eat meat, but only from animals killed by other animals. When Lok and Fa find a doe killed by a saber-toothed tiger, they hastily break it apart, believing that they are doing something wrong. Sex is utterly natural and innocent. They love each other and even the other: Ha reaches out as friend and relative to the man who later kills him. It is not the people, then, who sin and so lose Eden, although Fa and Lok, inspecting the abandoned camp of the others, find a container of mead and drink it. They become violent and sexual in a bad sense momentarily; they become like the others, suffering a Fall.

It is the new people, Homo sapiens, who fall, by separating themselves from...

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