Required Reading – The Rants: Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Required Reading, book rants, The Lord of the Flies, William Golding, Eris O'Reilly, classic books

(A/N: I had this written before I saw Rebekah’s blog post. XD Looks this is going to be just a continuation of why she’ll never read this book.)


Lord of the Flies, by William Golding.

Like a lot of kids taking public education in America, I first had to read Lord of the Flies in high school. And to tell you the truth, I couldn’t even finish it. I managed to get just far enough in it that I could fake it for a C on the essay test. (I don’t even know how I accomplished that, but I did. Read only about two-thirds of it, still managed a C. I wonder if this says more about me than the book, or vice versa.) I have no idea what the ending is. I’m pretty sure they murder a kid? And possibly eat him? I have no idea.

Anyway, the reason I couldn’t stomach it is still very clear to me. It’s a bunch of entitled white boys doing terrible, horrible things to each other. And frankly, I could see that every day—my high school was full of entitled dudes doing awful things to each other and everyone else. I really didn’t need to read a book about it, even if the backdrop was an island paradise.

I’ve learned now, as an adult, that Golding wrote it specifically as a rebuttal for another book that, if I remember correctly, he had to read growing up. (Or perhaps it was assigned reading from the school board he had to teach to his students. I can’t exactly remember which it was; it’s been awhile since I read a biography on Golding–another thing I don’t want to do again). The book was The Coral Island, by R. M. Ballantyne, and in it a group of white boys get stranded on an island and basically have a jolly good time showing off their intellectual superiority to the non-white locals. Golding didn’t agree with the message of the book, especially considering that he was a school teacher and had first hand experience on how terrible these boys could be. And I respect that. However, I really feel that the audience for that book is the people he’s writing about (i.e. entitled men/boys) as some kind of cautionary tale. If you don’t fit into that audience (or if you’re already keenly aware of the pitfalls of your own demographic) then this book is just… negative reinforcement. And redundant.

On top of all that, I do remember my high school teacher treating the novel like it was a good panorama of how an entire society operates. As if all of society is nothing more than a bunch of pre-teen rich white boys on an island doing monstrous things to each other. I remember distinctly being incredibly uncomfortable not just reading the novel, but every single day my teacher lectured about it. Each lecture was just a reminder that my teacher didn’t actually consider women or poor people or non-white people as being a part of society. Everything was framed with the lens that this group of kids on the island is the end-all be-all to our supposed culture.

And I feel that shows more about my teachers own prejudices than what the book was actually trying to do.

Either way, I’m not going to finish reading it. Ever. That bridge has been burnt for me.

A “Classic” I Will Never Read: anything by Ayn Rand, ever.

Much like Lissa, I haven’t nor ever will read anything by Ayn Rand. Rand herself was a pretty terrible person by most accounts. And pretty much all the people who hold up her work as some kind of cornerstone of their own beliefs have turned out to be kind of terrible people, too. Her work seems to be a manifesto in short-sighted selfishness to the point of suicide by greed. And I just… don’t need to put that in my brain, thanks.


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