Lord of the Flies
Ladies and gentlemen, you are scholars looking for information on William Golding’s life. You have started reading some of Golding’s work, including Lord of the Flies, and you want to know more about how the world he lived in influenced his work. Thus, you have set out to learn a little more about his life. You are going to be looking at world events to find out how they shaped Golding’s views of humanity and inspired him to write his most famous novel.
When you have finished exploring the sites that have been provided, looking at the pictures in the links, and watching the video clips, you will write up your findings for the chair of the English department at the college you are teaching at, in the hopes that you will be allowed to teach a course on the subject. Questions you should be looking to answer are: Do you think Golding saw these atrocities as a new event considering his book? How did the wars and political tension Golding lived through affected his view of human nature? What surprised you and what parallels can you draw between the world he lived in and the fiction he created?
- Click on the link to “Two Years Vacation.” There is clearly a history of literature involving boys marooned on a tropical island.
- Check out “The Coral Island.” It is the full text, so you don’t have to read all of it. Just pay attention to the main character’s names. Read pages 51-52.
- The next link will take you to another series of other links. Click on “Waterlogged Trenches,” “Body Lice,” and two other links of your choice.
- The next step in your search will be to a short history of the great depression in Britain. Read it, and look at the pictures provided.
- Golding’s biography will give some quick background on his life. It should be noted that he was at two of the major naval warfare events in World War II.
- There are two links here. The first is a time line of the hostilities between the U.S. and Russia. The next is a video of the first hydrogen bomb test. Both countries ended up with enough weapons to destroy the world many times over, and had them trained on each other day and night.
- Here, we have a picture of the trenches used during the war.
- The next link will take you on a page on chemical warfare. At the bottom is a video that you should watch. Notice the lines of men in the video clip with their hand on the next man’s shoulder. These men have been blinded by chemical weapons.
- Tanks were first used on the battlefield in WWI. People are always finding new ways to kill each other.
- The last link about World War One shows some of the hardships Golding, as a child, would have seen. Food rationing and material rationing would have been a part of his early life. Because of the war, things we think of as common were very scarce. The war started when Golding was 3 and ended 4 years later when he was 7.
- Here we can see the devastation caused by the Nazi bombings in London. Many people thought that after the First World War, there would never be another. When the second world war broke out he was 28 years old, and 6 years later when the war ended, he was 34. How do you think Golding felt about this return to violence?
- Golding was directly involved in the Battle of Normandy, also known as the D-Day invasion. Here you will see the scope of the invasion, and some of the casualties close up. Think of what Golding would have been doing during the massive offensive effort.
- The Final Solution was another name for the Holocaust. While Golding was unlikely to have seen these disturbing images first hand, he definitely would have heard about them after the war. Do you think this could have influenced his views on humanity?
- The link to the atomic bomb blast in Nagasaki, one of two that ended the war shows the explosion that ushered the world into the Cold War.
- Almost immediately after WWII, the Cold War broke out. The Cold War was another name for the tensions between capitalist and communist countries. Both ended up with the atomic bomb and both feared the start of a third world war. Click on the first link. It will tell you about the paranoia that existed in the U.S. about communist involvement.
- This is a real public service announcement that was shown to school children. In fact, ducking and covering would have done little to nothing in the event of an atomic war. Those close to the blast would have died, and many more would have died from exposure to radiation poisoning caused by fallout.
- After going through all the links, what do you think of how the world influenced Golding? Do you think he saw war and violence as natural human emotions? Did he respond to Coral Island on purpose? Why did he chose children for his story, instead of adults?
After finishing this lesson, you should have a better understanding of the world Golding found himself in, and some of the influences on his life. Golding lived through an unprecedented era of conflict. He was born right before World War I, fought in World War II, and lived through the Cold War. In looking at any novel, context is incredibly important and Lord of the Flies is no exception.
Work is to be done individually. After going through the process, you will begin your report for the chair of your department. If you finish early, you can start in class. If not, it will be due at the beginning of the next class for homework. It should be at least a page and a half in length and citation should be used for quotes.
- Quality of work: Does the student use correct grammar, spelling, and syntax in the search summary? Many errors: 1 Some errors: 2 A few errors: 3 Little to no error: 4
- Inclusion of material: Does the student draw from the links and information provided, giving examples and citing work? No examples or citation: 1 Attempted citation or irrelevant examples: 2 Good examples, but mistakes in citation: 3 Good examples and no errors in citation: 4
- Understanding of material: Does the student draw parallels between what he or she has been shown and the work being studied? No parallels drawn: 1 Little real understanding of how Golding was affected by the world around him: 2 Understanding, but no detail: 3 Full detailed understanding of how Golding’s work was influenced: 4
- Participation: Did the student act responsibly in the computer lab, doing the assigned work without being reminded or goofing off? Had to be constantly reminded to stay on task: 1 Often need to be reminded to stay on task: 2 Needed a few reminders: 3 Needed no reminders at all: 4