The other day while trapped in a chair nursing the incorrigible suckling infant, I wanted something to read. So I reached around and patted around in the bookcase behind me and drew out a slim volume, sight unseen. What had I picked? Why, Lord of the Flies! The perfect, classic accompaniment to a houseful of three boys and a sleep-deprived, over-emotional mother.
I proceeded to reacquaint myself with the heartwarming tale, not read since high school lit. And then I read all the critical essays in the back of the book, including questions on whether Golding is ultimately pessimistic or optimistic about the human spirit, examinations of the killing of the sow (vaguely sexual?), and Simon's role as a martyred Christ-figure (Simon, as you may recall, is killed in a orgiastic frenzy by a pack of boys wielding spears, just as he tries to bring them a message of salvation.)
This is quite heady stuff at 3:00 a.m.! It's great to read this sort of thing when one is liable to post-partum meltdowns without provocation. Anyway, I was just getting to the part where poor, fat, bespectacled Piggy (shorn of his specs) is dinged by a boulder and flung into the ocean, whereupon his brains spill out on a rock.
The incorrigible suckling infant was attached, as always, and I could hear my older boys down in their room playing something they called "Animal House."
It sounded OK at first. But then: "Kill Clifford!" they shouted, suddenly. "Kill Snoopy!" The noise got louder as did the cries for blood.
"Kill Stinky Teddy! Kill Clean Teddy!"
"I killed dose animals and now dey is DEAD."
"Now I am gonna kill your snake. Ha! He is DEAD."
"All the animals is dead and they was never heard from again! The end!"
I closed Lord of the Flies with a small shudder.