Saturday, August 18, 2007

Lord of the Flies (excerpt)

(I'm reading Lord of the Flies at the moment. I had read it years ago in high school and had forgotten most of it. It is apocalyptic and savage, a howling microcosm of human society and the evils that tear it apart from within. Enjoy.)

Simon stayed where he was, a small brown image, concealed by the leaves. Even if he shut his eyes the sow's head still remained like an after-image. The half-shut eyes were dim with the infinite cynicism of adult life. They assured Simon that everything was a bad business.

"I know that."

Simon discovered that he had spoken aloud. He opened his eyes quickly and there was the head grinning amusedly in the strange daylight, ignoring the flies, the spilled guts, even ignoring the indignity of being spiked on a stick.

He looked away, licking his dry lips.

A gift for the beast. Might not the beast come for it? The head, he thought, appeared to agree with him. Run away, said the head silently, go back to the others. It was a joke, really - why should you bother? You were just wrong, that's all. A little headache, something you ate, perhaps. Go back, child, said the head silently.

Simon looked up, feeling the weight of his wet hair, and gazed at the sky. Up there, for once, were clouds, great bulging towers that sprouted away over the island, grey and cream and copper-coloured. The clouds were sitting on the land; they squeezed, produced moment by moment, this close, tormenting heat. Even the butterflies deserted the open space where the obscene thing grinned and dripped. Simon lowered his head, carefully keeping his eyes shut, then sheltered them with his hand. There were no shadows under the trees but everywhere a pearly stillness, so that what was real seemed illusive and without definition. The pile of guts was a black blob of flies that buzzed like a saw. After a while these flies found Simon. Gorged, they alighted by his runnels of sweat and drank. They tickled under his nostrils and played leap-frog on his thighs. They were black and iridescent green and without number; and in front of Simon, the Lord of the Flies hung on his stick and grinned. At last Simon gave up and looked back; saw the white teeth and dim eyes, the blood - and his gaze was held by that ancient, inescapable recognition. In Simon's right temple, a pulse began to beat on the brain.

Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. London, UK: Faber and Faber, 1954. 151-2.


nevis said...

This was a good book. I remember loving it when I was in school. I loved the reading assignments in school. The teachers would assign one chapter, but I would usually go home and finish the book. They were so good! I think a few of my other favs were "To Kill a Mockingbird", "A Seperate Peace", "Catcher in the Rye" and "I am the Cheese". Good stuff.

Life of Turner said...

I just finished reading this book for the first time, and I feel like I understand myself so much more. Perhaps my favourite scene comes at the end when the rescuing sailors comment that, as British boys, they should be expected to be more civilized. Great satire, and another book off my list of "greatest books I've never read."

Derek out.