William Golding’s Lord of the Flies was written in the early 1950s, soon after the end of World War II. The book’s themes – such as power, good versus evil, and the dangers of groupthink – were widely discussed at the time. Golding’s thoughts on these themes were influenced by Hitler’s rise to power and the violent cruelty of the Nazis, reinforced by dictatorship and groupthink. In some ways, the novel tries to make sense of how the Nazis could have acted so cruelly – and how other people allowed it to happen. Lord of the Flies uses the boys’ invented society as a microcosm of the real world.
It is also notable that Lord of the Flies responds to growing fears in the 1950s over the possibility of nuclear war. World War II ended when the US dropped atom bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, the Soviet Union quickly developed nuclear weapons of its own, marking the beginning of the Cold War. Golding’s story imagines that the boys are stranded on the island during a nuclear World War III.
Lord of the Flies is inspired by a number of other adventure stories written for young people. The boys actually refer to some of them when they are getting excited about the possibilities...