How many people have read Lord of the Flies? Its conclusion and its larger point about nature is that people are essentially bad. The wars we fight originate not from legitimate causes, but a primal savagery in the human heart.
William Golding had almost too many issues to count.
Golding’s description of himself in a private journal as “a monster in deed, word and thought”. Sexual violence, alcoholic excess, shame, depression and vanity are all part of the story…
“I have always understood the Nazis because I am of that sort by nature,” Golding said
The Nobel laureate Sir William Golding, whose novel Lord of the Flies turned notions of childhood innocence on their head, admitted in private papers that he had tried to rape a 15-year-old girl during his teenage years, it emerged today.
Golding’s papers also described how he had experimented, while a teacher at a public school, with setting boys against one another in the manner of Lord of the Flies, which tells the story of young air crash survivors on a desert island during a nuclear war.
Golding may not have been the best person to teach anyone about human nature. Meanwhile a real life version of the story went quite differently.
But “by the time we arrived,” Captain Warner wrote in his memoirs, “the boys had set up a small commune with food garden, hollowed-out tree trunks to store rainwater, a gymnasium with curious weights, a badminton court, chicken pens and a permanent fire, all from handiwork, an old knife blade and much determination.” While the boys in Lord of the Flies come to blows over the fire, those in this real-life version tended their flame so it never went out, for more than a year.
The kids agreed to work in teams of two, drawing up a strict roster for garden, kitchen and guard duty. Sometimes they quarrelled, but whenever that happened they solved it by imposing a time-out. Their days began and ended with song and prayer. Kolo fashioned a makeshift guitar from a piece of driftwood, half a coconut shell and six steel wires salvaged from their wrecked boat – an instrument Peter has kept all these years – and played it to help lift their spirits. And their spirits needed lifting. All summer long it hardly rained, driving the boys frantic with thirst. They tried constructing a raft in order to leave the island, but it fell apart in the crashing surf.
Worst of all, Stephen slipped one day, fell off a cliff and broke his leg. The other boys picked their way down after him and then helped him back up to the top. They set his leg using sticks and leaves. “Don’t worry,” Sione joked. “We’ll do your work, while you lie there like King Taufa‘ahau Tupou himself!”
They survived initially on fish, coconuts, tame birds (they drank the blood as well as eating the meat); seabird eggs were sucked dry. Later, when they got to the top of the island, they found an ancient volcanic crater, where people had lived a century before. There the boys discovered wild taro, bananas and chickens (which had been reproducing for the 100 years since the last Tongans had left).
In real life, the boys pulled together and made for what should be a better story. Why is a fictional dystopian version of it so much better known? Because it suits a grimmer view of human nature and conveniently played into the Left’s anti-war agenda.
It’s just one of the many examples of how culture manufactures cynicism about human nature.
The Lord of the Flies version of humanity demands government to save us from ourselves. The real life version shows that we naturally create self-sustaining communities.
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