A nuclear war has engulfed the world. Groups of boys from various schools in Britain are being
En route to their destination, their aeroplane is shot down and the boys find themselves crashed on a
tropical island, with no adults to supervise them.
THE ATOMIC AGE
Lord of the Flies was first published in the early 1950s when the world was recovering from the
devastation of World War II. The horror of Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini was still on everyone's mind.
At the same time, a significant event had recently happened -- the detonation of two atom bombs over
Japan. The people of the world were transfixed by the devastation.
And then, in 1949, Russia revealed that it too had the atom bomb. The world suddenly had two
superpowers threatening everyone with a nuclear holocaust.
William Golding started writing Lord of the Flies soon after this sequence of events.
It was taken for granted that a nuclear war would soon erupt. One prediction for this event was 1964 --
the theme of Nevil Shute's novel On the Beach.
Indeed, the fear of the atom bomb was clearly revealed in a series of movies released during the early
In the remake of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds, America attempts unsuccessfully to destroy the
Martian invaders through the use of a nuclear weapon.
In Them, ants mutate into giants through contact with radiation and threaten all humanity.
Tarantula has a similar plot while in The Incredible Shrinking Man -- arguably the best
movie of this genre -- the hero shrinks to infinity after accidentally passing through a nuclear cloud while
at sea on a yacht.
These were the fears which were gripping the imagination at the time when William Golding was writing
Lord of the Flies.
The story is set in the very near future, at a time when new but strange aircraft travelled the skies.
In the plot, the next world war has indeed happened and the boys have had to be evacuated because of
the nuclear threat to Britain.
It is easy to conjure up yet another Hitler but in this case it's in the shape of the tyrant, Jack. Golding
shows what would happen within a small and closed community if such a tyrant were to succeed.
Have you looked at the questions
in the right column?