In Lord of the Flies, a group of English schoolboys are crossing the ocean (in all likelihood they were evacuating the country, as it is implied that there is a war going on) when their plane crashes, killing all the adults and leaving the boys stranded. Two boys, Ralph and Jack, quickly emerge as possible leaders, and all the boys vote for Ralph to be the primary leader, with a boy called Piggy as his second man, and for Jack to be the head hunter, with a boy named Roger as his next-in-command. Eventually, Ralph and Jack become the leaders of opposing factions rather than leaders working together within one group, and more and more boys join Jack's group out of fear or a desire for power. As Ralph's group grows ever smaller, they become the prey of Jack's hunters and must struggle to stay alive.
My favorite quote from this book is found on the very last page: "Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man's heart, and ----." The last part of the sentence is a spoiler, so I won't post it here, but I felt like that quote kind of mirrored how I felt after finishing the book. Lord of the Flies is and excellent portrayal of the dark side of human nature that exists to some extent in us all, young or old. One thing I found particularly compelling was the faith of some of the children in the power of adults to set things right. At one point toward the end of the book, Piggy wishes that adults were on the island because things wouldn't have gone so badly wrong. However, this is clearly contradicted by the fact that the adults in the story, though absent from the main plot, are waging a war that on many levels makes no more sense than the war between the two groups of boys. The theme I got from the book is that people are generally dark creatures, and that the great wars of men and rulers are no less nonsensical than the war games of children. Depressing? Yes. Dark? Quite. Fortunately, that is often to my taste, and such was the case with Lord of the Flies.