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Lord of the Files

deus ex machina, Lord of the Flies, The Coral Island

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Lights of Bohemia to Love in Livery

a novel by W. Golding, published in 1954. A party of schoolboys are the only survivors of an aeroplane crash during a nuclear war. Stranded on a desert island, they attempt to recreate the structures of democracy from which they came, but by the end of the book have descended to savagery. By the time Golding introduces his deus ex machina, two of the boys have been killed. Golding makes the island story a parable of events in the larger world, and places it in a religious perspective: Ralph and Simon both demonstrate Christ-like attributes, and the social catastrophe is explicitly blamed upon mankind's incapacity to control its own human nature. The moral argument of the book, however, is more complex than merely a discourse on Original Sin, and many questions—such as whether the ‘civilized’ world to which the boys will return is morally any better than the island society of the boys—are deliberately left unresolved. On several levels, Lord of the Flies rejects the optimism of R. M. Ballantyne's The Coral Island (1858), from which Golding borrows several names and themes.

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