22 February 2013

Lord of the Flies - Primal Survival

From ages philosophers, psychologists, psychoanalysts, psychiatrists and all the other so called thinkers have tried to understand the Human Nature. There are millions of theories behind - why we behave the way we behave, what is the core of Human Nature and what is good or evil, etc etc.

Lord of the Flies – on the face of it appears to be a simple adventure book for young readers where a bunch of boys abandoned on an island try to survive the jungle until they get rescued. But in reality this book it goes much deeper delving into the core human behaviour, social rules, power games, mob mentality, fear of the unknown, power corruption, symbolic power of mask and survival of the fittest. In fact the brilliance of the story is in its simplicity similar to books like Animal Farm or The Catcher in the Rye.

At one point I was torn between the choice whether a child’s mind should or should not be exposed to such a book – knowing whether to emulate or avoid the behaviour shown. Looking back at my childhood other than some innocent ones, I can recall the cruel things kids did to each other despite adult supervision and abundance of resources. Beating and teasing each other, mocking the weak and the slow, forming groups and ostracising others, the class bully - his followers and their victims, following what’s popular and not what’s right. We all have observed, struggled and lived through such childhood experiences (or should I say ordeals) and they have shaped us as what we are today. Frankly children can be really mean at times. But then would the story have been any different if they were adults. Nah. Probably it would have been worse.

The book touches the primal instincts of human beings and the behaviour of each character in the story depicts the sub-conscious evil in us. It’s like a bunch of characters have been brought in for an experiment, nowadays called entertainment in the form of Reality shows like Big Boss, Big Brother or Survivor series. The way the events unfold is as natural as shocking. The book picks up slow introducing the main set of characters with a dash of hope and adventure. But soon it becomes real gory as the cracks appear, groups are formed, battle lines are drawn, possessions become power and the one with the last word becomes the ruler and the rule.

The book does not leave you with a happy ending or a moral message but sort of an unknown tug at the core of your conscious saying ‘THIS is YOU and YOU are EVIL.’

The book is indeed a CLASSIC and a MUST READ. The only turn off were the boring descriptions of the landscape and the island which did not do much for my imagination and I just felt like skipping those paragraphs.

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