William Golding wrote about a group of Boy Scouts who were stranded on an island, and who tried to set up a society among themselves. At first they were quite civil and logical in their social interactions.

But as time went on they became less civil, and eventually barbaric in their treatment of each other...even setting up a pig's head for worship! The story ended with a rescue, before they annihilated each other completely...by a warship! Showing the need of society at large in the world.

Does this represent faithfully what Protestants teach about the Fallen Nature of Man as presented in the Bible? (Romans 3:23, 6:23) And does it lead to the incisive conclusion that Fallenness directs us to: the need of a Transcendent Savior?

Note that the troop of boys had no outside, cultural influences. They only acted according to their inherent instincts. Which instincts gradually manifested themselves in evil conduct, growing worse and worse by the days. Is this an accurate illustration, by the novelist, of Paul's thesis in Romans 1-2 (wittingly or unwittingly on the part of Mr. Goldman)?

What then? Are we better than they? No, in no wise, for we have proven before both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin. As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one... (Psalm 14:1; Romans 3:9-10)
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

Did Golding have any connection with Christianity in his personal life? Was there any knowable influence that theology had in forming his motifs in writing his novels?

3 Answers 3


According to this biography of him, https://www.thoughtco.com/biography-of-william-golding-british-novelist-4801336 nobody would get the faintest clue that he might be a sound writer of Protestant theology, even via fiction. Nor does it say he had any connection with Christianity, personally. Reading his biography, his life seemed to indicate at every turn a very un-Christian way of living and thinking. He might have studied human nature and the depths of depravity it can descend into at an academic (and even personal) level, but that never made anybody a Christian, let alone a Protestant.

I had to read that book when at school, and later I saw a black and white television presentation of it with actors. I have no recollection of even the remotest hint of Christian theology in either. Nor do I know of any accredited Protestant group urging anybody to examine his Lord of the Flies in order to better understand fallen human nature or the only way of salvation (faith in Christ). We can find everything we need to know about our fallen nature and the only remedy for it in the Bible, and only there. The Old Testament teaches the utter failure of everybody who tried to please God by keeping his laws. Faith pleased God so that even before he gave his law, people like Noah and Abraham, had faith, experiencing God's grace. In the New Testament, the same lesson is given, that only faith in Christ can save anybody. There is not a particle of any of that in that fiction Golden wrote.


Unexpected Revelation Since posting this question, I have had the opportunity to come across quite a bit of research concerning the symbolism in Golding's famous book. This is the third most famous book in education in the United Kingdom! (Behind Animal Farm and Great Expectations.) It was made into a movie in 1963 (B and W) and in 1990 (color).

Some literary critics consider this book simply a critique on good versus evil. Others, an essay on Authoritarian and Democratic governments. But there is a plethora of essays noticing the religious overtones---albeit Biblical and Christian symbolism---throughout its pages:

  • Lord of the Flies as a Biblical allegory (The First Academy)
  • Lord of the Flies Religious Allegory (Prezi)
  • Lord of the Flies Religious Allegory (Bartleby)
  • Essay on Religious Allegory (Teen Ink)
  • Religious Allegories in the L of the F (Academia.edu)
  • God and Religious Symbolism in L of the F (123HelpMe)
  • L of the F Religious Allegory (Lucas Bennie)
  • Lord of the Flies Biblical Allegory (Kelsey Zeng, The First Academy)

William Golding won the Nobel Prize for this novel in 1983, and was knighted in 1988. His personal life did indeed have its challenges...the World War...alcoholism...etc. But his literary output was prolific. And many have seen great influence of Christianity in his novels. Especially his first one: Lord of the Flies.

  • The island is seen as the Garden of Eden
  • Simon represents Christ-figure (although not an exact image)
  • The pig's head with flies represents Satan (Beelzebub:Lord of the Flies Mt. 12:24 The snake thing, ever so big. Golding, p. 47, 1954)
  • Jack depicts Judas, the antagonist
  • Ralph shows the failure of mankind's inability to live by rules

But to the main issue Did Golding wish to represent the biblical struggle between good and evil...because of the fallen nature of mankind...because of inherent sin propensities?

There are so many biblical allusions in the book

"so obviously referring to the Bible that it could not be ironic or coincidence, such as the title and the beast in the story. Golding said himself, Woe unto me if I don't speak of the things of God. [Van Vuurenn, 2004, p.1, "Good Grief: Lord of the Flies as a post-war rewriting of salvation"; Liberator 25(2)]

Concerning the fallen nature of man notice the dialogue Simon has with the Beast (pigs head with flies): You knew, didn't you? I'm part of you? Close, close, close! I'm the reason why it's not so? Why things are what they are?

Golding believed evil was not an external force, but something born within people. Golding makes that clear in his message of the Lord of the Flies. (Study.com/academy/lesson). He also wrote: Man produces evil as a bee produces honey. (biography.com) He is also quoted as saying, I have always understood the Nazis because I am that sort by nature.

In this book Golding taught that "all mankind has a sinful nature, and it manifests more easily in the absence of societal comfort...The boys left (alone to their own devices) on the island represent man when he is without God or a relationship with Christ." (Genesis 6:5, Kelsey Zeng, p.8)

The story's characters, setting, themes, and references all develop the basis of the book on the fall of man, the problem of evil, and the ramifications of original sin (Zeng referencing Green, 2010, The Stranger From Within, New Republic, 241(14), 31.)

Original Sin Does this comply with what is taught in the Bible? Does man have a nature that forbids him to live without God...without self-destructing consequences? Does man need rescuing from off the once pristine island of Earth? The Bible speaks:

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)

Trueness The Lord of the Flies, is not a strictly a theological work. It is a novel, and takes literary license ever so often. But The Pilgrims Progress is also a novel that teaches moral truths. So also is the Lion, and the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Not exactly holy scripture either; but it serves the noble purpose of spreading Christianity to those who would never have read Aquinas's Systematic Theology!


Actually, the boys did have outside cultural influences. They were of a British background and prided themselves on the civilized society they came from. That makes it all the more surprising that they abandoned those ideals the way they did.

I don't believe the idea of the brokenness of human nature, and its tendency to revert back to its more savage state from time to time in various circumstances, is limited to the Christian religion alone. But I am ignorant of what other religions stress this tendency of humanity, and I don't know how the secular community feels about it either.

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