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Book Review: Lord of the Flies

lord of the flies60 years before the Hunger Games, a plane full of teenage boys crash-land on an island…this is William Golding’s Lord of the Flies (BOOK ZONE 823.91 GOL) a shocking novel made into a ballet starring CCN dance student Tyler Brooks.

Boarding school was a tough place to be in the 1950s. Adults who had lived through the first and second world wars were determined to teach the next generation to be good leaders and soldiers, and students were subject to harsh discipline. A hierarchy was strictly observed, with younger boys expected to act as servants for the older boys, who could ask them to do almost anything and beat them if they refused. Ralph, the first boy to organise the survivors, takes on the role of Officer, ordering the others to work toward their rescue. His leadership is opposed by Jack, who is head of the choir back home and a violent bully. Jack gains support when he and his choir kill a wild pig for the boys to eat. They convince the others that only they are brave enough to kill the ‘beast’ that stalks the island, and when Ralph fails to climb the cliff where the beast is meant to hide, the boys break into two groups. Piggy, an overweight boy who is best friend with Ralph, owns the pair of glasses that Jack desperately needs to light a fire. Ralph and Piggy are forced to hide in the jungle, as the hunt gets well and truly underway.

The author of Lord of the Flies, William Golding, is said to have written the book after seeing a play where a group of abandoned boys had a ‘jolly good time’ on an island. Golding was working as a teacher in a boy’s school and knew that his pupils turned wild as soon as his back was turned. If they were shipwrecked miles away from their parents and teachers, they would not act like gentlemen for long. The most memorable characters in Lord of the Flies are boys like Piggy, who do not follow the crowd. Simon is a quiet boy who saves the group on more than one occasion, but can’t stand up to boys like Jack, who use their physical strength to intimidate others. As the boys grow obsessed with finding and killing the beast, Simon falls ill and wanders into their path, starting a chain of events that lead to the novel’s shocking finale. Who is the Lord of the Flies, and what does he want with Simon? You’ll need to read to find out.

Lord of the Flies has been adapted into a film twice, in 1963 and 1990. The director of the first adaptation cast boys from local schools instead of child actors, in order to make the film more realistic. Their parents were given copies of the book to read, with some of the more violent parts cut out! In the 1990 version (BOOK ZONE 823.91), the boys are from an American school and are training for the military. Watch it to compare the modern American values with 1950s Britain.

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If you liked Lord of the Flies:

Read Boy: Tales of Childhood (QUICK READS 823.91), the first part of Roald Dahl’s autobiography. Find out how the man who wrote Matilda and many incredible children’s books was brutally treated at boarding school by boys and teachers.

If… (DVD LOBBY 791.43) is a satirical film starring Malcom McDowell, who would go on to play one of cinema’s most famous violent teenagers, Alex, in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. This film is set in a public school and explores what might happen if students are pushed too far. It was X-rated in the 1960s but is now Certificate 15.

Mockingjay Part I is out in cinemas from November 20th and is the latest instalment in the world-famous Hunger Games series. Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark have been separated after fighting it out twice in the annual games, designed to keep the people of Panem under the Capitol’s rule. Katniss is persuaded by the rebel District 13 to become a symbol of defiance and encourage the other districts to start a civil war. Can she reunite the other victors, who are being held hostage by the evil President Snow?

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Read more about Tyler Brooks’ role in the Lord of the Flies ballet here: https://ccn.ac.uk/news/dance-student-perform-renowned-production-lord-flies

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