Lord of the Flies – William Golding

William Golding’s 1954 novel, Lord of the Flies, resonates as a cornerstone of required reading in schools over the last fifty years, winning the Nobel Prize in 1983.  While it plays out well as a captivating story, it also serves to teach young students about using symbolism in writing.

Ralph and Piggy find themselves together after their air transport makes a crash landing on a deserted island during a wartime air transport to keep the children safe.  Piggy annoys Ralph but he decides he might be helpful in some ways, on an island with no adults.  They find a large conch shell and Ralph blows it because Piggy has asthma and shallow breaths won’t make the shell bellow. Soon, a large group of children gather around the boy with the conch and they begin a meeting in which Ralph is elected leader over another confident boy named Jack, which builds jealousy in the latter.  Ralph assigns Jack and his choir boys as hunters to try to capture meat and food. Others are assigned to build a fire for a rescue signal, and others are to build shelters.

Nothing seems to go right.  While Ralph and Piggy have the right ideas, most of they boys are looking for adventure and fun, and half of them are ‘littl’uns,’ too small to be much help in any way.  The boys used Piggy’s glasses to light the first fire, which burned a large section of the forest, and seemed to have also killed one of the young boys. The first shelter the group built was pretty good, but the second had fewer helpers, and the third only had a couple of the boys, so each one was progressively worse.  Jack’s jealousy kept building and when Ralph was angry about all of the boys hunting instead of minding the fire, Jack started trying to talk the boys into choosing himself for leader, which was unsuccessful.  A few days later, Jack saw his chance when most of the boys were expressing their fears- ghosts, monsters, and beasts.  Jack offered to keep them safe, besides, weren’t the boys all tired of all the rules Ralph was trying to push on them?

Two tribes formed and by luring with roasted pig along with the fear of violence to keep them, Jack pulled most of the boys to his side of the island. In their first hunt, as a new tribe, they killed a big female pig with small piglets suckling.  They put her head on a stake to offer to the much feared beast nobody had actually seen.  Simon, one of the boys sleeping near the pig’s head became entranced in his thoughts, projecting his own voice into the fly-covered head. The Lord of the Flies told him that the fear they felt was close, in fact, it was inside each of them… Simon ran away to escape the head, finding another secret, the boys need to know.  He ran to Jack’s tribe and they saw him in the darkness as a beast. Their fears came alive and they beat the boy to death.

In a couple of night raids, Jack’s tribe had stolen fire, then stole Piggy’s glasses to take all of the power to their tribe through the ability of making their own fire.  The four remaining boys of the original group, Sam and Eric, Ralph and Piggy walked together to the boys fort to ask for the glasses back, Piggy was practically blind without them.  A fight escalated, and an accident happened.  Not really an accident, the wild tribe hoped to cause damage, but it seemed they really didn’t understand the falling rock killed Piggy. Sam and Eric were captured and forced into the new tribe, and Ralph became a hunted boy.  Through the next day, Jack’s tribe systematically hunted Ralph, spreading through the island and walking it together, being sure not to miss a hiding boy.  They also started a fire to push Ralph out, and at the last moment, Ralph ran and darted out of the forest toward the beach, where he found a sailor who had come ashore to check on the fire. He took the boys onto their warship,  the boys were safe.

Symbolism:  Ralph projected the ideal society with rules and order. Piggy served as his brain trust, no power, but good ideas if they were heeded.  Jack represented the opposite end of society- evils, lack of morals, acting on emotions.  The large female pig symbolized sex and desire.  The head on the stick, or the Lord of the Flies, represented subconscious thought, or what some psychologists term the Id. At the end of the story, the sailor stumbled upon the boys fighting a battle to the death, while they were then safe from themselves, the sailor would be taking them on a ship in war time, to essentially fight an adult battle to the death, a sort of transfer of boys to men fighting.

 

Twitter: @83mrlong

The Quick and the Dead – Louis L’Amour

The day finally came when the McKaskel family set out upon the Santa Fe Trail. Duncan, his wife, Sarah, and their son Tom had only known the city life back East.  Both parents were educated and Tom was eager for adventure as any teenage boy would be.  Little did they know how much adventure they would find.

All of the education they gained in life would not be enough to secure their survival on the dire trail.  Within the first week the horses were stolen, surely they would have had to turn back if- the hero, Con Villain hadn’t shown up.  He was only passing through, and the pretty Sarah sure makes a great cup of coffee.

The McKaskels weren’t sure what to make of Con.  Was he just waiting for the right moment to rob the family himself?  Little by little, Con earned their trust. First of all, he never had to follow Duncan to the outlaw’s town to retrieve the horses.  He especially didn’t have to shoot the man in the barn aiming to shoot Duncan in the back.  Con didn’t even have to stay with the McKaskels when the Indians came to visit.

With his help, the family gained a different knowledge.  Learning what had not been written in the books they read.  The horse thieves followed them on the trail and Con always helped the McKaskels stay a step ahead.  One night, they were split up by the outlaws and Sarah figured they might not ever see Con again. If it were true, would the family make it on their own?  Would they overcome the struggles of the trail or would they become like the thousands of unmarked graves on the dangerous route?

A classic Western, The Quick and the Dead has been made into movies and is one of Louis L’Amour’s most popular works.  The suspense found between the pages keep them turning to find out if the family survives, if Indians attack, if outlaws return, and if Con Villain would be their savior, or a wolf in a sheep’s skin…

Twitter: @blookworm

IG: @83mrlong

 

Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Love in the Time of Cholera was my first experience in reading Nobel Prize winning author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The mix of love and heartache made this a great read.
The book opened with Dr. Juvenal Urbino providing his professional expertise to the death of his friend, Jeremiah de Saint Amour.  Later that day, Dr. Urbino, too, would meet his fate.  The real story, however was the relationship of Dr. Urbino’s wife, Fermina Daza, and her childhood sweetheart, Florentino Ariza.

Florentino Ariza  became entranced with the school girl as soon as he saw her while delivering a telegram to her father.  She was constantly escorted by her aunt and that left little chances of Florentino Ariza making her acquaintance.  Aunt Escolastica realized the young man who always sat waiting in the park nearby reading poetry was waiting on Fermina Daza. So she did her best to provide the opportunity for him to approach the young lady.  For months he continued this habit until he was brave enough to approach and ask the aunt to give them some privacy.  He delivered her a letter and asked if he could speak to her in the future.  Love letters began and continued for a couple of years until Fermina Daza’s father requested a meeting with Florentino Ariza.  Lorenzo Daza demanded the boy leave his daughter alone and Florentino refused. The father believed his daughter was worthy of a more distinguished suitor. Lorenzo Daza sent his daughter away to live with her late mother’s family to let the love cool down. As Florentino worked in the telegraph office, he made the connections to send messages back and forth with Fermina during her time away.  Suddenly upon her return, Fermina realized she did not truly love Florentino and left him.  Florentino’s heart was broken to the point of illness.

Dr. Urbino soon met the Daza family and began courting the young woman as well.  With more success, Dr. Urbino found Fermina’s father Lorenzo agreeing to the marriage.  Fermina and Dr. Urbino were married for 50 years, while Florentino Ariza patiently waited for Dr. Urbino’s death for his second chance with his true love, Fermina Daza.

Fermina Daza’s marriage was filled with little love.  After the death of her husband, Florentino soon returned to proclaim his love for her. She still did not love him, but in fact, resented him for calling on her so soon after her husband died.  Florentino did not give up, he began writing her again.  These later letters were not so much love letters, but more of a philosophy of love, which struck a chord with her.  She began inviting him to weekly tea, which turned into a weekly card game with her son and his wife.

The books theme revolved around the sickness of heartbreak. During Florentino Ariza’s lowest points, his mother feared he had cholera as physical illness joined the emotional sickness of the heartbroken.  He spent many lonely years longing to rejoin his sweetheart, passing the time with 622 lovers who each paled in comparison to the sweet Fermina. At one point in the story, he saw her in a mirror in a restaurant, and watched her eat and talk with friends and family for over an hour.  He then offered the proprietor anything he could to buy the mirror off the wall and take it home.

While most of the book was sad, you couldn’t help but cheer on Florentino Ariza as he waited patiently and then seized the opportunity to again pursue his love.  In reality, he was not the most likable character.  The women he found love with included a 14 year-old girl he was the guardian of, along with 621 other women, often widows and married mistresses. However, the heartache he suffered and pain he felt made the reader sympathize with the character and hope that it all worked out in the end.

Rating: ********8/10

Twitter: @blookworm