Lord of the Flies Blog: ….that book you read in school

Dance Ambassador Leah Wainwright gives the lowdown on the story of Lord of the Flies ahead of the New Adventures’ dance adaption coming to The Lowry in April.

“Maybe there is a beast…maybe it’s only us”

Since beginning on this project a few months ago the subject of ‘The Lord of the Flies’ has come up in conversation with a wide variety of people.  The standard response seems to be ‘Oh yes, I read that in school, not quite sure I remember it though’.

Yep, me too; but I do remember our English teacher handing out the books, as she informed us William Golding had written Lord of the Flies as a reaction to The Coral Island and what he viewed as an inaccurate portrayal of behaviour in such circumstances.  School-boys, she told us, would not build shelters and have a good old time.  They would turn savage.  *gulp*.  So with that vague memory I took up Golding’s first novel once more, not entirely sure what I would find.

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So this blog is for those of you, who, like me, have dim memories of desert islands, pigs heads and school-boy savagery; A Lord of the Flies 101.

“He tried to convey the compulsion to track down and kill that was swallowing him up.”

The book opens moments after what appears to be an emergency landing of an airplane on a deserted island. We are introduced to two young men; Ralph and Piggy who explore their territory and, after finding a conch shell and blowing on the musical mollusc, manage to call together all the former passengers of the plane, all of whom are school age.  From conversations between the boys we understand they appear to have been evacuated from the UK following a possible nuclear attack, there are no adults with them and no-one knows where they are.

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Initially overwhelmed by the sheer thrill of being all alone on a deserted island with no adults, the true horror of this reality begins to take over and consumes each and every one of our characters throughout the book.

“His lips quivered and the spectacles were dimmed with mist. ‘We may stay here till we die.’ With that word the heat seemed to increase till it became a threatening weight and the lagoon attacked them with blinding effulgence”

An initial attempt to create order, involves selecting various leaders, nominating ‘hunters’ to acquire food and building a fire on top of the island’s mountain to act as an SOS to passing ships.  Their vague attempts at creating a stable society in which they can all have food, water and shelter are thwarted by their own naivety.  Childhood fears of a monster stalking the island reduce some of the boys to madness, while power reduces others to cruelty.

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 “He began to dance and his laughter became a bloodthirsty snarling.”

Bloodlust, frenzy and fire reign supreme.  Our charming school boys; choristers and cricketers when they land on the island fall fast and hard into betrayal, megalomania and murder.

“Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s  heart”

I wont go so far as to ruin the ending,  just in case your interest has been piqued to dust of your old copy to the book and return to that long  forgotten island yourselves.

So, that book you vaguely remember from your own childhood; yes really rather sinister!

And there we have it one pretty intense young adult novel, two film adaptations (1963, 1990)  later and Ralph, Piggy, Simon, Jack, Sam n’ Eric and others are brought to life once again, but this time through dance.  I must warn you though, don’t be expecting camaraderie and making-up before teatime this book is brutal.

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