The very title of Golding’s The Lord of the Flies has passed into popular culture as shorthand for the barbarity brought about by desperate attempts at survival. This volume in Greenhaven Press' student-friendly Social Issues in Literature series provides multiple ways of understanding Golding’s book, often assigned in high schools as an accessible piece of literature that functions on both a literal and symbolic level. The structure of the volume, like all of those in the series, provides an opportunity for students of British literature to explore themes within literature in a scaffolded and supported manner.
The first segment of the book discusses Golding’s work and influences on a larger scale, including the moral ambiguities he encountered serving during D-Day and the revelation of Nazi atrocities as informing Golding’s rather pessimistic view of human nature. The bulk of the book consists of brief articles relating critical interpretation of The Lord of the Flies. Each article begins with an introductory paragraph focusing the reader on the nature of that particular close reading as well as some background about its authorship. Issues broached in the critical interpretation of the text include mastering the conflicts of puberty; the male impulse toward violence; the need for law and order as a check on man’s nature (and the inability for civilization to check nature); and warnings of racial and class anitpathies embedded in the text. The excerpts collected here are concise, closely linked to the source text, and chunked through frequent, descriptive subheadings.
Contemporary perspectives make up the third chapter to round out the volume. While these social issues articles do not address the text directly, they provide up-to-date contextual information on related subjects to help students contextualize the themes in the modern world. The five essays included discuss the rhetoric of the war on terror as good versus evil; young men; risk-taking; and recruitment into terrorist groups; the greed and treachery publicized by the television reality program "Survivor"; and alienation from peers as contributes to violence. The last of the five essays addresses violent behavior by girls, which is increasing internationally. Indexed. Recommended for school and public libraries where curriculum covers the novel.