From The Writer's Chair


The Lord Of The Flies – A Book Review

'The Lord Of The Flies Book Jacket'

'The Lord Of The Flies Book Jacket'

A Look At William Golding’s Classic Novel ‘The Lord Of The Flies

It seems presumptuous that I may offer any additional meaningful insights into a book such as ‘Lord Of The Flies’. I feel humbled when reading this book. It seems to me a novel of such superlative qualities that it should be admired as a benchmark of creative fiction. No attempted analysis or critical opinions could offer anything that has not already been said. It is a novel which quiet simply should be revered. It is one of the greatest pieces of published fiction of all time.

As such I implore anyone who professes to be a literary connoisseur of any description to take the time to read this undeniable classic, if you haven’t already had the pleasure. The novel is, in essence the epitome of classic creative fiction.

In over fifty years since it’s publication in 1954 the story has lost none of its impact and ability to hold the readers attention with such unyielding focus.  Set during wartime it tells the story of a group of boys seemingly marooned on a tropical island after their boat has capsizes in the water. The novel so unashamedly depicts the boys decent into anarchy that as the reader you are left with such a sense of personal disillusionment with the state of our own hierarchal society and are left sincerely contemplating just how far away our own primal instincts actually are.

'The Author Willisam

'The Author William Golding'

The boys themselves are portrayed as symbols. They represent the different singular personalities that encompass our society. Indeed the novel itself is allegorical. The very title ‘Lord Of The Flies’ is a symbolic reference to a slaughtered pig whose head is erected on a stick to demonstrate the power struggle between authority and chaos in an ungoverned situation.

As expected at the heart of the story is the central relationships between the boys. Ralph is an older diplomatic boy. He quickly establishes himself as the leader of the group through election by the other boys. Ralph embodies logic, order and civilisation. He establishes a means of ordered communication, anyone can have their say providing they are holding a conch. He suggests lighting a fire to increase the chance of rescue, erects primitive shelters and allocates a meeting place for all the boys to gather and air their opinions and concerns.

'Ralph'

'Ralph'

Piggy is a short overweight boy who wears glasses. His true name is never divulged and he suffers from debilitating asthma. He is Ralph’s adviser and a loyal and true friend. He represents intelligence, reason and civilization. Golding uses symbolism to describe Piggy through his refusal to believe in superstitious nonsense such as ‘the beast’ and the fact that unlike the other boys his hair does not grow. The limited influence of civilization in the boys’ current situation is symbolised through Piggy’s the limited mobility compared to the other boys. The deterioration of the influence of civilization is further exemplified when his glasses are stolen leaving him almost helpless.

'Piggy'

'Piggy'

The character of Jack symbolises the worst aspects of human behaviour when not controlled by society’s boundaries. Jack appears to posses more primitive desires and is exuberated by identifying himself as a hunter, a position of great importance in the tribe. As the novel develops his egocentric nature develops as he dismisses the importance of maintaining the fire in order to hunt causing the boys a chance to be rescued. This causes great tension between himself and Ralph resulting in a division in the tribe. In many ways Jack represents irrational logic, whereas Ralph represents rational thought. With Ralph’s authority undermined Jack’s true nature is revealed. He leads the majority of the boys away from Ralph and forms a separate tribe where the rules and regulations of democracy are abandoned and violence and torture govern the behaviour of the boys. The conflict between Jack and Ralph is central at the climax of the novel.

'Jack'

'Jack'

Simon is a quiet character whom symbolises peace and tranquillity. He is very in tune with the sights and sounds of the island and often is depicted having extraordinary sensations in his experience on the island. He has an extreme aversion to the pig’s head, which derides and taunts him in a hallucination. He is referenced in a comparable way to Jesus Christ and is taunted by the other boys because of his unusual nature.

'Simon'

'Simon'

‘The Lord Of The Flies’ is a character in itself in the novel. It is literally a pig’s head that has been decapitated by Jack and erected on a large stick as an offering to ‘the beast’. A symbol of fear and anarchy ‘The Lord Of The Flies’ was once a sow, clean, loving and innocent, now has become a manically smiling, bleeding image of evil. This is a clear symbolization of the transformation Jack and the boys have undergone during their time on the island. The literal translation of ‘Lord Of The Flies’ is Beelzebub, a demonic figure often considered to be Satan’s right hand man. ‘The Lord Of The Flies’ is a physical manifestation of the evil that dwells within the boys and that Golding believed existed in all of us.

In ‘The Lord Of The Flies’ William Golding has created one of the most profound, challenging and accomplished works of fiction of all time. It is a timeless novel that is bold enough to address the fundamental frailties of human nature. I cannot recommend it highly enough.


No Country For Old Men – A Book Review

'Cormac McCarthy's Masterpiece'

'Cormac McCarthy's Masterpiece'

No Country For Old Men Review

“It’s a mess ain’t it sheriff”, Bell’s deputy asks him. “Well if it ain’t it’ll do till the mess gets here”, Bell reply’s knowing full well that hell has arrived in Texas.

‘There is no such thing as life without bloodshed’, said Cormac McCarthy in a rare interview thirteen years ago. A sentiment which echoes the plight of his character Llewelyn Moss in ‘No Country For Old Men’.

The recipe for a thriller needs only a limited number of ingredients to spark a readers’ interest and hold their attention. No Country For Old Men’ is a simple story of greed, revenge, violence, doubt and fear showing the full implication of one simple snap decision.

These are the most primal of human emotions. Ones which we can all comprehend and are able to identify with.

Whilst out hunting antelope near the Rio Grande Llewelyn Moss stumbles upon a transaction gone horribly awry. Finding bullet ridden corpses, several kilos of heroin and a caseload of cash he faces a choice that he knows will change everything. Should he leave the scene as he found it or cut the money and run? Choosing the latter this begins a chain of events that will culminate in each participant asking the question, how does a man define his destiny?

Cormac McCarthys’ first novel since the acclaimed ‘Cities Of The Plain’ is a taught mesmerizing modern day western which tackles important philosophical questions with the brute tenacity it’s central antagonist displays throughout the story.

The punchy dialogue thrusts the reader forward at a relentless pace hurtling at a tremendous speed to the inevitable bloody climax.

Cormac McCarthy’s traditional retrospective prose has been completely abandoned here in favour of vibrant dialogue which reads as much like a screenplay as a novel will allow.

At times this unconventional novel seems to transcend genres, it is a neo-noir thriller western drama with aspects of satire and dark humour. It is truly uncharacterisable in the modern literary sense.

'What's The Most You Ever Lost On A Coin Toss?'

'What's The Most You Ever Lost On A Coin Toss?'

All characters appear fully formed and with very little back story revealed. In the case of Chigurh, the primary antagonist, he is solely described as someone without racial or religious characteristics. McCarthy describes him as someone who could have quite logically originated from anywhere, even the bowels of hell itself. Moss is a capable and resourceful man. He is a returning Vietnam veteran, though nothing in any great detail is explained of his experiences in the novel. Suffice to say he is more than capable of looking after himself. Much of Ed Tom Bell’s personality is deduced from his musings. He is a third generation lawman, that we know as much and now in the twilight of his career he appears bemused by much of the country around him. However, each character is central to the story as they complete ‘the three points of the triangle’. Chigurh is inherently evil. He has achieved an ambient state of grace that none of us will ever know. He is an individual whom applies his twisted logic to make sense of the world he perceives. Moss is the humanistic character, one whom everyone can identify with. He has both the light and the dark inside him and acts in his own best interests depending on the situation at hand, whereas Bell has become a pacified watchdog, not an attack dog whom is content overseeing his remaining days in a melancholic and lethargic fashion.

Despite the novels diluted format McCarthy’s bleak, violent fundamentalism is profoundly evident. The cynical tone of the novel allows the reader to fear the worst at the conclusion. McCarthy draws the reader into open gunfights on city streets, crude makeshift weaponry and agonising self medication and dressing in obscure motel rooms. The inevitable never seems too far away.

Such unrelenting sinister high hokum might be ridiculous if not for McCarthy’s insistence on pushing the reader forward at a relentless pace leaving very little, if any time to pause and digest what has just been described. Like Bell the exchanges between Moss and Chigurh leave us breathless and only able to sit back and watch in horror.

McCarthy guides us into an inevitable world of violence, it is an utterly absorbing and chilling tale. It is a heated story that brands itself on the readers mind as if seared by a knife heated on campfire flames.