“The tragedy is not that things are broken.  The tragedy is that things are not mended again.” – Alan Paton

William Golding’s Lord of the Flies is, in every sense of the word, a tragedy.  Written only a decade after the second World War, the novel tells the story of well-polished British boys whose lives steadily decline into savagery, deceit, and brutality.  Stranded on a Pacific island after a plane crash, their efforts to establish community and structure are stifled by the menacing presence of “the Beast.”  As time passes, two factions of boys emerge – one that fights for the hope of rescue, maintaining a signal fire day and night, and another that settles for mere survival, contenting itself with the hunting of wild pigs and tribal dances.  But the Beast manifests itself in more ways than one – and as one boy discovers all too late, it is part of them all.

“The theme,” says Golding, “is an attempt to trace the defects of society back to the defects of human nature.  The moral is that the shape of a society must depend on the ethical nature of the individual and not on any political system however apparently logical or respectable.”

While Golding provides no easy answers to questions he raises about suffering and human depravity, the book is by no means void of hope.  But hope comes subtly – almost silently, as it so often does in life – and never where you expect it.