#Interestingliterature – Lord of the Flies or The Coral Island; which one?

There are a number of thoughts out there about the differences between Lord of the Flies by William Golding and The Coral Island by RM Ballantyne. Some of the analyses even include Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. I personally don’t believe that Robinson Crusoe belongs with the other two books because the differing circumstances. Robinson Crusoe’s is one man’s journey to survive, alone, on a forsaken island. Both Lord of the Flies and The Coral Island involve more than one person and, as a result, include the social interaction that goes with that.

Coral Island 1893.jpg                Image result for Lord of the flies

I read Lord of the Flies for the first time as a set book in high school. The primary story involves the wreckage of a British aeroplane full of school children who are being evacuated during a war. The only survivors are boys from the ages of about six to twelve years old.

This book held a horrific fascination for me as I got to know the primary “good” characters: Piggy, the fat boy with glasses and a great intellect; Ralph, fair-haired and good looking and quiet and dreamy Simon who is not strong and faints frequently. The primary “bad” character is the dictatorial and wild Jack who turns his choir into a band of hunters.

While Ralph tries to establish some sort of order and organise the younger children to a certain extent, his relaxed approach results in the boys gradually eroding the boundaries set by their previous lives. The hunting process adds to this gradual breaking down of the  veneer of civilization and the boys ultimately descend into total savagery. This is a story of the negative and dark side of a pack of boys cut off from discipline, authority figures and civilization.

The Coral Island, on the other hand, is the noble tale of three boys, shipwrecked on an island, who manage to make the best of their circumstances. They build a respectable shelter and learn to hunt, cook food and utilize learned knowledge to its best effect. There is a strong religious undertone to this book and the boys remain strong in their Faith throughout their adventures.

The boys have an encounter with cannibals and eventually see Christianity being brought to the cannibals community and exerting a positive influence over this particular aspect of their lives. One of the boys, Ralph, is kidnapped by pirates and he has an uplifting effect on the Captain and one of his men who ultimately repents of his life of murder and sin on his deathbed.

The subject matter of The Coral Island is to depict how fine men, who retain their religious and moral fiber in difficult circumstances and retain a comradeship and respect for each other, can be hugely successful in a difficult situation. The principles of discipline, respect and leadership are emphasized.

While The Coral Island does include the theme of colonialism and may not be to everyone’s taste, I far preferred it to Lord of the Flies, which denotes that in adverse circumstances the evil in a boy will prevail over all other teachings. I prefer to see the potential good in people and situations.

Have you read either of these books? What are your thoughts?

Have a great weekend.







39 thoughts on “#Interestingliterature – Lord of the Flies or The Coral Island; which one?

  1. Robbie, I read Lord of the Flies back in high school. It’s a book that really sticks with you. I’ve seen a few movie adaptions too. I’d never heard of The Coral Island before, but it sounds like a fascinating read and probably one I would prefer over Lord of the Flies. Like you, I prefer to see the good in people and the message of faith appeals to me. This was a fascinating post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Mae. Lord of the Flies was a very dark book that left you with the feeling that boys, left unsupervised, would revert to savagery and the evil that is innately within them would come out. I don’t believe that and didn’t like this book.

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  2. Robbie, thanks for a very interesting post. I agree about Robinson Crosoe, it is quite unique book. You are tempting me now to read The Coral Island. Sound good and I haven’t read it. You

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We read Lord of the Flies in school as well. I was taught that it was a microcosm of the world outside, a representation of The War adult males were engaging in outside their island in The World.
    Otherwise, it’s a horribly nasty book. 🙂
    Of course, now that I mother four boys, I often reflect on Lord of the Flies. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Enjoyed this post, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I wasn’t familiar with Coral Island before but I did also read LOTF in secondary school.

    As regards the books, I think it sounds like I’d prefer LOTF, because it has the darker themes, although I see why your preference is the reverse. I don’t like to see the bad in people but I think in times of scarcity and fear that’s often what we see. I like the idea of staunch discipline and what sounds like a stiff upper lip keeping things together but I don’t relate to it as much. That said, I could well prefer the prose or characters of The Coral Island. I found all the characters kind of cliche and unmemorable in Flies, but that maybe because I was familiar with the stereotypical character types they’d inspire.


    1. Thank you for your interesting comment. I think LOTF disturbs readers because it is very possible that the wrong leadership could lead the vulnerable and impressionable totally awry. I do prefer to believe that the good in people will prevail but, of course, we all know that is often not the case.

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  5. Good stuff. Thank you. I’ve never read Lord of the Flies or The Coral Island.

    After reading your description of each I wonder which one I would have been drawn to if I were a teenager and would my opinion have changed as I got older.

    With the settings being similar but the outcome different it seems on my part that Lord of the Flies would have attracted the rebellion side of me in my youth while Coral Island may have related more to my thinking as an adult.


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  6. I don’t think I’ve ever read Coral Island, but I certainly remember Lord of the Flies. Like others have said, it was required High School reading and one of those books you don’t forget. In particular, I remember poor Piggy, and also the conch shell.

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  7. I hated Lord of the Flies. I think I always assumed that girls would have done a much better job of it than the boys. I never read the other, so I can’t comment. However, I endorse any book which encourages the better angels of our nature.

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  8. Lovely summary of the two books Robbie and the characterisation of what they learned, thank you. I confess I’ve read neither though Lord of the Flies is well known. I suspect my sons would have read it as part of their Eng Lit at high school.

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      1. My Dad read Coral Island to my sister and I when we were little. I read it to my boys as a bed time story when they were young. Lord of the Flies was one of my matric English set books. Coral Island was full of enjoyable adventure rather than frightening cold-blooded episodes.

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  9. Robbie, I read Lord of the Flies in High School and it is bothers me to this day. I think, as with the Coral Island story, it shows that upbringing does count in many regards. Personalities in such a small group can trigger good and bad behavior. Karen

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