The real Lord of the Flies: what happened when six boys were shipwrecked for 15 months – 15 years after the publication of William Golding’s, “Lord of the Flies,” a half-dozen schoolboys were marooned on a desert island for 15 months. Unlike in the novel, the castaways took care of each other and built themselves a sophisticated village. They resolved quarrels peaceably, exercised, made music and prayed daily.

Rutger Bregman, author of this article, which is an excerpt of a book, concludes that people are better than Golding makes them out to be. And certainly the incident is powerful, and a cause for optimism.

But the article also raises two sobering points, and rushes by them:

  • The reason the island was uninhabited is that the people who had previously lived there were kidnapped into slavery a century earlier.
  • The boys were students at a boarding school, who stole a boat from a local fisherman. The fisherman is cast as a villain of this article, but the incident might also be viewed as a bunch of privileged white kids who prey on a native working stiff.

Life is complicated.

Mitch Wagner @MitchWagner