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Headscratchers: Lord of the Flies
  • Another thing: The ending. This book is meant as a Deconstruction of the typical island novel, subverting all the typical tropes it could. The world around the island is at war and Ralph even says several times that they're never going to be rescued. With that in mind, WHY THE *** DOES THE BOOK END WITH THEIR RESCUE BY THE BRITISH NAVY?!?! Deus ex Machina doesn't even begin to cover it.
    • Because the alternative is a Downer Ending too dark for even the book?
    • This troper's 10th grade English class concluded that the ending's blatant incongruity was a Take That to the numerous "bunch of kids having fun on a deserted island" stories that the book itself was meant to deconstruct.
    • This troper's 10th grade English teacher gave broad hints to get his class to reach the conclusion that the rescue by a military ship was Golding saying that adults were no less savage than the children had become on the island.

    • Because if anything, this may just have been a supervised military simulation similar to battle royale. a test to sort out the soldiers from the weaklings. People like Jack will be sent to the frontlines while people like Ralph needs another training regiment.
    • i've always figured that it's too show how quickly the boys become ashamed of there actions as soon as someone is watching. Notice how Jack won't identify himself as the one in charge despite having recently sat on a throne.
      • In addition to this, it shows that they're still boys and therefore very sensitive to the presence of an authority figure.
    • This troper was always under the impression that it's a social commentary. The boys on the island split into two groups. Ralph and his followers believe and practice a form of law-based government, while Jack and his gang are perfectly content to indulge the more violent sides of their natures. Ralph and company have the hope (perhaps unspoken; it's been years since I read the book) that this is a temporary situation, that in an adult world it's the rule of law that is triumphant, and that the barbarism of Jack's faction is not tolerated. Then they get bailed out by the Navy, and it becomes apparent that while Ralph's side seems to support the way the world ought to be run, Jack's way (war, violence, etc.) is typically how things end up after all. This point would be difficult to make with quite the same impact unless the rescue occurred.
    • While the boys have been rescued from the island and the evils it brought out in them, they are now on board a military ship, in the middle of a war, the Adults on the ship they are now on is going to be chasing down their enemies with intent to kill much like the Boys were doing to Ralph just moments before. But this time there will be no one to save the Adults from their evil.
    • The book ends with an image of a cruiser in the distance. The cruiser is a weapon, designed to kill things, much like a spear. It represents the fact that, while Ralph's law-based government is how he sees Britain and such (or saw), that cruiser is going to hunt and kill whoever it's at war with, just like Jack and his tribe were hunting Ralph.
    • I always saw the naval officer's appearence as a stunning turnabout from the air of the novel up till that point. As soon as civilization returns in the form of an adult we see them stop being the ruthless savages that they seem to be and instead we finally see what they really are: iresponsible little boys in need of a firm guiding hand.
    • William Golding may have done it in purpose to show how fast the society children have built falls before true authority.
    • Maybe I'm getting confused with the Film of the Book, but they did set fire to the island to drive Jack out of the forest. As such, that was one hell of a signal fire - maybe the naval officer thought it was a sinking ship/crashed plane and went to investigate - ironically, the fire meant to kill Jack ends up saving him.
      • You're confusing Jack and Ralph. Ralph hides in a thicket and Jack and co attempt to smoke him out. In doing so they set fire to the whole island.
    • Given that Ralph survives, it could be that the whole thing is a survivor story. There are some details that Ralph could not have possibly known about (the man with the parachute, what Simon thought when he saw the pig's head) but Ralph could have made those up to fill in the gaps. Having this be a story told by a survivor, with the narrator idealising and demonising various parts is actually quite chilling.
    • Another explanation is that the characters have to live the rest of their lives with the knowledge of the horrors they experienced (and in some cases inflicted) very much like survivors of WWII or the holocaust had to do at the time.

  • Why didn't Simon take anything off the parachutist's body? Surely, there could've been SOME equipment on that corpse he could have recovered (i.e. a flare gun, a first aid kit, a gun, a flashlight). And what did he go for? A piece of fabric off the parachute! Also, why the hell didn't he detach the parachute from the pilot? What's the point of untangling the parachute if you're not even going to take it off the poor soul's body?
    • Perhaps he forgot the supplies on him were there or didn't have the foresight. Or, maybe some superstition. They were starting to go mad from being on the island, so his cognitive function wouldn't be the best.
    • Also, Nausea Fuel. Simon's still a fairly sensitive boy, and that's a decaying human body that's moving. Takes a strong stomach just to get close to it.
    • Because you don't rob a corpse. Unless you're a trauma surgeon, a homicide detective or a hardened killer, even touching a dead body goes against everything in you. A british schoolboy isn't going to be desensitized enough to rifle through a dead man's pockets.
      • Sure, just like how he wasn't desensitized enough to think that a pig's head on a stick was telling him that it was Satan.
      • Well, he was the least "beastly" of the boys.
      • Nuts to you guys. This isn't Stand by Me. If I was stranded on an island for God-knows-how-long, I'd do anything that could potentially get me and everyone else off the island as quickly as possible. And if it meant looting a dead guy just to acquire something that could better prove that everyone's paranoid fears about "The Beast" was a load of bullcrap so that they could focus more on getting off the island, I'd freaking do it.
  • This one has always confused me: is the navy officer American or British?
  • I may just be reading too much into this, but Samneric have to be symbolic for something. They're twins, they finish each other's sentences, they share the same name and are always thought of as one person, and they are the only ones besides Piggy to stay loyal to Ralph. What are they meant to represent? Any ideas?
    • Perhaps the large amount of symbolism inside the story is implying they have a value deeper than a simple character, but I have never heard of a good idea for what the two represent.
    • It's possible that Samneric represent some sort of balance; there are two of them, and they are very close— this closeness could have given both of them something to check themselves against, representing the role of family and duality in stability. Or maybe I'm reading too much into this.
    • I was told Sam and Eric represent conformity and how people eventually are swayed into the masses no matter how hard they try. The more and more mindless they become in the book, the more and more their names are crushed together. Eventually, their sense of belonging and wishes to remain individuals with their own decisions are override and they join Jack, and thus, they become Samneric. Though they were becoming Sam 'n' Eric when they were tempted by Jack and the like.
    • I recall reading an essay in an academic copy of the novel that mentions Samneric as a parody of the political lockstep of Britain and France during the inter- and post-war period.
    • This troper saw Samneric as just another source of frustration for Ralph. They are a great help to him, even after they join the tribe, but they could be twice as useful if only they could act alone.

  • The Lord of the Flies itself. Why is it that the Pig's head on the stick was the icon of "the Beast", but not the dead parachutist that everybody though was the Beast? I mean, this was the offering to the Beast, not its shrine! A dead parachutist would invoke a "Lord of the Flies" image, since if you think about it, a fighter pilot with an open parachute potentially looks like a giant fly-like monster, and thus, the Lord of the Flies, which is of course, Satan, and "the Beast" that everyone fears. Maybe I'm a bit Literal-Minded on this, but I think it would have been much more symbolic if Simon's confrontation with the "Lord of the Flies" occurred with the dead parachutist instead of the pig's head. Not to mention, it would make this cover of the book seem a little less...misleading.
    • Well, that would undermine Golding's point that the perceived "beast" was actually harmless. The pig's head was actually placed there by the hunters; the parachuter just ended up landing on the island and the kids turned it into a beast. Golding was trying to say that we are the beast, so making an innocent parachuter the stand-in for Satan wouldn't work quite as well.
  • Critical Research Failure : Piggy is myopic/nearsighted, so his lenses would be divergent and therefore worse than nothing for starting fires. The kids would have had to learn one of the other methods for starting fires that they discussed, but that would break the plot.
    • And in a fairly large group of children it's rather implausible that Piggy is apparently the only one that wears glasses.
      • Unless he was the only one smart enough to survive the initial plane crash. There could have been all sorts of hazards that you could miss with poor vision, or not being able to see out of the corner of one's eye. Piggy was smart enough to take things very slowly in dangerous situations.
      • Didn't ophthalmologists prescribe glasses like that if you were nearsighted back then (the book was written in the fifties)? I usually hand waved it as that, either that or, rather, I figured he was so severely nearsighted he needed thick glasses (which isn't really uncommon when you think about it).

  • Before the dead paratrooper falls on to the island, there is a beast mentioned several times. I know that the point of the beast was to say that the boys were the beast all along, but what was that original beast that the first littlun cried about going through the creepers. And what happened to that little boy? Did he die in the fire?
    • The little boy's "beast" was actually just him waking up from a really bad nightmare, stumbling around and coming across Simon, who was, to quote Ralph, "mucking around in the dark." It's just meant to show how ingrained our primordial fears are, and to kick-start the notion of a beast. And yes, Piggy makes a point of mentioning that the boy is never seen again after the fire, implying that he died in it.
    • The first littlun's beast is not really identified, it's the second one they believe to have been Simon. Golding's book by way of the Lord of the Flies scene attempts to just wrap it all up as in the boy's imagination, but in the same way never definitely answers the question, so with no factual answer go ahead and assume the real beast ate up the littlun that never appeared again after the fire, or that he imagined it and died in the fire. Whichever strikes your fancy.
The LoraxHeadscratchers/LiteratureThe Lord of the Rings

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