Banned Books Week: 'Lord of the Flies'

Demoralizing!

Bad language!

Excessive violence!

Racist!

At the Banned Book Reading in the Christopher Center for Library and Information Resources, I belittled these words scrawled onto the brown paper covering the library book. I hold a strong position against banning any book, so I was skeptical that these scathing reviews would change my mind about the worth of whatever book I found underneath the wrapping. In my opinion, even a book that goes against my personal views can teach me a lesson and even make my beliefs stronger by considering opposing ideas.

However, I was surprised when I pulled “Lord of the Flies” out of the brown paper. I actually found myself understanding, and maybe even agreeing with, the authorities who decided this book wasn’t appropriate for use in public schools.

“Lord of the Flies” focuses on a group of young boys who are stranded on an island during an unspecified war. The story centers around their descent from civilized minds into base, savage people while they’re left to themselves.

I remember reading “Lord of the Flies” my freshman year of high school and asking myself, “Why are we reading about these horribly immoral children who are stuck on an island terrorizing each other?” The way their attempt at democracy slowly degrades throughout the book and becomes increasingly divided and violent definitely gives a lot of evidence for the negative traits of the text.

But the more I thought about the discussions I had with other students surrounding the problematic themes and characters, the more I realized these unfavorable attributes define exactly why even this book shouldn’t be banned. The boys’ struggles on the island and the lengths they go to in order to survive prompted conversations about what it means to be human and to dehumanize others. Reading about how their efforts went wrong guided us towards debating what they should’ve done differently.

Now, finally, my thought process had come full circle. My gut reaction to unwrapping “Lord of the Flies” was to agree with taking it off the shelves, yet I came to realize that it had taught me valuable lessons. I still think aspects of the book are abhorrent, but the reason I find them so ghastly is because they’re so contrary to the ideals I believe humanity should uphold.

Without books like “Lord of the Flies” to give us an illustration of the darkness we hope never to see in our world, we wouldn’t be able to recognize and strive for the betterment of our reality.

The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch.

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