Since it is Banned Books Week, each staff member has decided to choose their favorite banned book. I picked William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Golding’s book has been challenged in Texas, South Dakota, North Carolina, Arizona, California, New Jersey, and Iowa. The book has been criticized for being “demoralizing,” “racist,” and, my personal favorite, “implying man is little more than an animal" (220).
I read this book in the fifth grade and immediately appreciated its understanding of the physical danger that was inherent, at least for me, in an unsupervised adolescence. The book’s plot centers on a group of kids who, after a plane crash, are forced to survive alone on a tropical island. Jack is the antagonist, a natural bully who commands the group through his physical nature. The protagonist is Ralph a clever and pragmatic boy who tries to keep the group together and focused on getting off the island. The character I most identified with Simon who is, from what I can remember, kind, but not a whiner like Piggy.
Lord of the Flies is a great book for young adults because everyone can appreciate its themes. I remember wondering why Jack had to be so cruel: why couldn’t they all just be friends? But, even at a young age, readers recognize that Jack is an important part of the group. Jack didn’t talk about finding meat; he went out and killed a pig. Jack is a doer, not a talker, and even kids know survival often depends on action. The most interesting character may be Piggy. Piggy is a sympathetic character in that he’s friendly and gentle but, in the wild, Piggy is a liability. He’s constantly losing his glasses, complaining, or calling to Ralph for help. I remember feeling bad when Piggy gets squashed but I also remember feeling relieved because now Ralph was free of his burdensome friend.
Even though Lord of the Flies is marketed as a Young Adult’s book, it’s a great book for anyone. There is plenty of action and mischief to keep young folks interested but the themes are far from childish. If you’re looking for a banned book to read this month, come to MLC and check out this classic.
Sova, Dawn B. Banned Books: Literature Suppressed on Social Grounds. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2006.