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william golding Quotes

William Golding Quotes

Birth Date: 1911-09-19 (Tuesday, September 19th, 1911)
Date of Death: 1993-06-19 (Saturday, June 19th, 1993)



    • The Herr Doctor does not know about peoples.
    • The man who tells the tale if he has a tale worth telling will know exactly what he is about and this business of the artist as a sort of starry-eyed inspired creature, dancing along, with his feet two or three feet above the surface of the earth, not really knowing what sort of prints he's leaving behind him, is nothing like the truth.
    • Basically I'm an optimist. Intellectually I can see man's balance is about fifty-fifty, and his chances of blowing himself up are about one to one. I can't see this any way but intellectually. I'm just emotionally unable to believe that he will do this. This means that I am by nature an optimist and by intellectual conviction a pessimist, I suppose.
    • The very day after I learned that I was the laureate for literature for 1983 I drove into a country town and parked my car where I should not. I only left the car for a few minutes but when I came back there was a ticket taped to the window. A traffic warden, a lady of a minatory aspect, stood by the car. She pointed to a notice on the wall. 'Can't you read?' she said. Sheepishly I got into my car and drove very slowly round the corner. There on the pavement I saw two county policemen. I stopped opposite them and took my parking ticket out of its plastic envelope. They crossed to me. I asked if, as I had pressing business, I could go straight to the Town Hall and pay my fine on the spot. 'No, sir,' said the senior policeman, 'I'm afraid you can't do that.' He smiled the fond smile that such policemen reserve for those people who are clearly harmless if a bit silly. He indicated a rectangle on the ticket that had the words 'name and address of sender' printed above it. 'You should write your name and address in that place,' he said. 'You make out a cheque for ten pounds, making it payable to the Clerk to the Justices at this address written here. Then you write the same address on the outside of the envelope, stick a sixteen penny stamp in the top right hand corner of the envelope, then post it. And may we congratulate you on winning the Nobel Prize for Literature.'
    • The writer probably knows what he meant when he wrote a book, but he should immediately forget what he meant when he's written it.
    • 'Aren't there any grownups at all?' 'I don't think so.' The fair boy said this solemnly; but then the delight of a realized ambition overcame him. In the middle of the scar he stood on his head and grinned at the reversed fat boy. 'No grownups!'
    • 'I was the only boy in our school what had asthma,' said the fat boy with a touch of pride. 'And I've been wearing specs since I was three.'
    • 'Aren't you going to swim?' Piggy shook his head. 'I can't swim. I wasn't allowed. My asthma-' 'Sucks to your ass-mar!'
    • 'We can use this to call the others. Have a meeting. They'll come when they hear us-' He beamed at Ralph. 'That was what you meant, didn't you? That's why you got the conch out of the water.' Ralph pushed back his fair hair. 'How did your friend blow the conch?' 'He kind of spat,' said Piggy. 'My auntie wouldn't let me blow on account of my asthma. He said you blew from down here.' Piggy laid a hand on his jutting abdomen. 'You try, Ralph. You'll call the others.' Doubtfully, Ralph laid the small end of the shell against his mouth and blew. There came a rushing sound from its mouth but nothing more. Ralph wiped the salt water off his lips and tried again, but the shell remained silent. 'He kind of spat.' Ralph pursed his lips and squirted air into the shell, which emitted a low, farting noise. This amused both boys so much that Ralph went on squirting for some minutes, between bouts of laughter. 'He blew from down here.' Ralph grasped the idea and hit the shell with air from his diaphragm. Immediately the thing sounded. A deep, harsh note boomed under the palms, spread through the intricacies of the forest and echoed back from the pink granite of the mountain. Clouds of birds rose from the treetops, and something squealed and ran in the undergrowth.
    • 'This is our island. It's a good island. Until the grown-ups come to fetch us we'll have fun.'
    • Either the wandering breezes or perhaps the decline of the sun allowed a little coolness to lie under the trees. The boys felt it and stirred restlessly. 'You couldn't have a beastie, a snake-thing, on an island this size,' Ralph explained kindly. 'You only get them in big countries, like Africa, or India.' Murmur; and the grave nodding of heads. 'He says the beastie came in the dark.' 'Then he couldn't see it!' Laughter and cheers. 'Did you hear that? Says he saw the thing in the dark-' 'He still says he saw the beastie. It came and went away again an' came back and wanted to eat him.' 'He was dreaming.' Laughing, Ralph looked for confirmation round the ring of faces. The older boys agreed; but here and there among the little ones was the doubt that required more than rational assurance. 'He must have had a nightmare. Stumbling about among all those creepers.' More grave nodding. They knew about nightmares. 'He says he saw the beastie, the snake-thing, and will it come back tonight?' 'But there isn't a beastie!' 'He says in the morning it turned into them things like ropes in the trees and hung in the branches. He says will it come back again tonight?' 'But there isn't a beastie!' There was no laughter at all now and more grave watching. Ralph pushed both hands through his hair and looked at the little boy in mixed amusement and exasperation.
    • Ralph waved the conch. 'Shut up! Wait! Listen!' He went on in the silence, borne on in his triumph. 'There's another thing. We can help them to find us. If a ship comes near the island they may not notice us. So we must make smoke on top of the mountain. We must make a fire.' 'A fire! Make a fire!' At once half the boys were on their feet. Jack clamored among them, the conch forgotten. 'Come on! Follow me!' The space under the palm trees was full of noise and movement. Ralph was on his feet too, shouting for quiet, but no one heard him. All at once the crowd swayed toward the island and was gone- following Jack. Even the tiny children went and did their best among the leaves and broken branches. Ralph was left, holding the conch, with no one but Piggy.
    • 'How can you expect to be rescued if you don't put first things first and act proper?'
    • Ralph lay flat and looked up at the palm trees and the sky. 'Meetings. Don't we love meetings? Every day. Twice a day. We talk.' He got on one elbow. 'I bet if I blew the conch this minute, they'd come running. Then we'd be, you know, very solemn, and someone would say we ought to build a jet, or a submarine, or a TV set. When the meeting was over they'd work for five minutes, then wander off or go hunting.'
    • Roger stooped, picked up a stone, aimed, and threw it at Henry- threw it to miss. The stone, that token of preposterous time, bounded five yards to Henry's right and fell in the water. Roger gathered a handful of stones and began to throw them. Yet there was a space round Henry, perhaps six yards in diameter, into which he dare not throw. Here, invisible yet strong, was the taboo of the old life. Round the squatting child was the protection of parents and school and policemen and the law. Roger's arm was conditioned by a civilization that knew nothing of him and was in ruins.
    • Jack planned his new face. He made one cheek and one eye socket white, then rubbed red over the other half of his face and slashed a black bar of charcoal across from right ear to left jaw. He looked in the mere for his reflection, but his breathing troubled the mirror. 'Samneric. Get me a coconut. An empty one.' He knelt, holding the shell of water. A round patch of sunlight fell on his face and a brightness appeared in the depths of the water. He looked in astonishment, no longer at himself but at an awesome stranger. He spilt the water and leapt to his feet, laughing excitedly. Beside the mere, his sinewy body held up a mask that drew their eyes and appalled them. He began to dance and his laughter became a bloodthirsty snarling. He capered towards Bill, and the mask was a thing on its own, behind which Jack hid, liberated from shame and self-consciousness.
    • The chant was audible but at that distance still wordless. Behind Jack walked the twins, carrying a great stake on their shoulders. The gutted carcass of a pig swung from the stake, swinging heavily as the twins toiled over the uneven ground. The pig's head hung down with gaping neck and seemed to search for something on the ground. At last the words of the chant floated up to them, across the bowl of blackened wood and ashes. 'Kill the pig! Cut her throat! Spill the blood!' Yet as the words became audible, the procession reached the steepest part of the mountain, and in a minute or two the chant had died away.
    • His mind was crowded with memories; memories of the knowledge that had come to them when they closed in on the struggling pig, knowledge that they had outwitted a living thing, imposed their will upon it, taken away its life like a long satisfying drink.
    • Jack stood up as he said this, the bloodied knife in his hand. The two boys faced each other. There was the brilliant world of hunting, tactics, fierce exhilaration, skill; and there was the world of longing and baffled common-sense.
    • 'The rules!' shouted Ralph, 'you're breaking the rules!' 'Who cares?' Ralph summoned his wits. 'Because the rules are the only thing we've got!' But Jack was shouting against him. 'Bollocks to the rules! We're strong - we hunt! If there's a beast, we'll hunt it down! We'll close in and beat and beat and beat - !'
    • 'I'm scared of him [Jack],' said Piggy, 'and that's why I know him. If you're scared of someone you hate him but you can't stop thinking about him. You kid yourself he's alright really, an' then when you see him again; it's like asthma an' you can't breath. I tell you what. He hates you too, Ralph -' 'Me? Why me?' 'I dunno. You got him over the fire; an' you're chief an' he isn't.' 'But he's Jack Merridew!' 'I been in bed so much I done some thinking. I know about people. I know about me. And him. He can't hurt you: but if you're standing out of the way he'd hurt the next thing. And that's me.' [Simon?] 'Piggy's right, Ralph. There's you and Jack. Go on being chief.'
    • However Simon thought of the beast, there rose before his inward sight the picture of a human at once heroic and sick.
    • 'You want a pig,' said Roger, 'like in a real hunt.' 'Or someone to pretend,' said Jack. 'You could get someone to dress up as a pig and then he could act - you know, pretend to knock me over and all that -' 'You want a real pig,' said Robert, still caressing his rump, 'because you've got to kill him.' 'Use a littlun,' said Jack, and everybody laughed.
    • Jack was on top of the sow, stabbing downward with his knife. Roger found a lodgment for his point and began to push till he was leaning his whole weight. The spear moved forward inch by inch and the terrified squealing became a high-pitched scream. Then Jack found the throat and the hot blood spouted over his hands. The sow collapsed under them and they were heavy and fulfilled upon her. The butterflies still danced, preoccupied in the center of the clearing.
    • He paused and stood up, looking at the shadows under the trees. His voice was lower when he spoke again. 'But we'll leave part of the kill for :' He knelt down again and was busy with his knife. The boys crowded round him. He spoke over his shoulder to Roger. 'Sharpen a stick at both ends.' Presently he stood up, holding the dripping sow's head in his hands. 'Where's that stick?' 'Here.' 'Ram one end in the earth. Oh - it's rock. Jam it in that crack. There.' Jack held the head and jammed the soft throat down on the pointed end of the stick which pierced through into the mouth. He stood back and the head hung there, a little blood dribbling down the stick.' Instinctively the boys drew back too; and the forest was very still. They listened, and the loudest noise was the buzzing of the flies over the spilled guts.'
    • Simon's head was tilted slightly up. His eyes could not break away and the Lord of the Flies hung in space before him. 'What are you doing out here all alone? Aren't you afraid of me?' Simon shook. 'There isn't anyone to help you. Only me. And I'm the Beast.' Simon's mouth labored, brought forth audible words. 'Pig's head on a stick.' 'Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill! You knew, didn't you?' said the head. For a moment or two the forest and all the other dimly appreciated places echoed with the parody of laughter. 'You knew, didn't you? I'm part of you? Close, close, close! I'm the reason why it's no go? Why things are what they are?'
    • 'Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood! Do him in!'
    • His [Ralph's] temper broke. He screamed at Jack. 'You're a beast and a swine and a bloody, bloody, thief!' He charged. Jack, knowing this was the crisis, charged too. They met with a jolt and bounced apart. Jack swung with his fist at Ralph and caught him on the ear. Ralph hit Jack in the stomach and made him grunt. Then they were facing each other again, panting and furious, but unnerved by each other's ferocity. They became aware of the noise that was the background to this fight, the steady shrill cheering of the tribe behind them. Piggy's voice penetrated to Ralph. 'Let me speak.' He was standing in the dust of the fight, and as the tribe saw his intention the shrill cheer changed to a steady booing. Piggy held up the conch and the booing sagged a little, then came up again to strength. 'I got the conch!' He shouted. 'I tell you, I got the conch!' Surprisingly, there was silence now; the tribe were curious to hear what amusing thing he might have to say. Silence and pause; but in the silence, a curious air-noise, close by Ralph's head. He gave it half his attention - and there it was again; a faint 'Zup!' Someone was throwing stones: Roger was dropping them, his one hand still on the lever. Below him, Ralph was a shock of hair and Piggy a bag of fat. 'I got this to say. You're acting like a crowd of kids.' The booing rose and died again as Piggy lifted the white, magic shell. 'Which is better - to be a pack of painted niggers like you are, or to be sensible like Ralph is?' A great clamour rose among the savages. Piggy shouted again. 'Which is better - to have rules and agree, or to hunt and kill?' Again the clamour and again - 'Zup!' Ralph shouted against the noise. 'Which is better, law and rescue, or hunting and breaking things up?' Now Jack was yelling too and Ralph could no longer make himself heard. Jack had backed right against the tribe and they were a solid mass of menace that bristled with spears. The intention of a charge was forming among them; they were working up to it and the neck would be swept clear. Ralph stood facing them, a little to one side, his spear ready. By him stood Piggy still holding out the talisman, the frail, shining beauty of the shell. The storm of sound beat at them, an incantation of hatred. High overhead, Roger, with a sense of delirious abandonment, leaned all his weight on the lever. Ralph heard the great rock long before he saw it. He was aware of a jolt in the earth that came to him through the soles of his feet, and the breaking sound of stones at the top of the cliff. Then the monstrous red thing bounded across the neck and he flung himself flat while the tribe shrieked. The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee; the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist. Piggy, saying nothing, with no time for even a grunt, travelled through the air sideways from the rock, turning over as he went. The rock bounded twice and was lost in the forest. Piggy fell forty feet and landed on his back across that square, red rock in the sea. His head opened and stuff came out and turned red. Piggy's arms and legs twitched a bit, like a pig's after it has been killed. Then the sea breathed again in a long, slow sigh, the water boiled white and pink over the rock; and when it went, sucking back again, the body of Piggy was gone. This time the silence was complete. Ralph's lips formed a word but no sound came. Suddenly Jack bounded out from the tribe and began screaming wildly. 'See? See? That's what you'll get! I meant that! There isn't a tribe for you any more! The conch is gone -' He ran forward, stooping. 'I'm Chief!'
    • What did it mean? A stick sharpened at both ends. What was there in that?
    • What was the sensible thing to do? There was no Piggy to talk sense. There was no solemn assembly for debate nor dignity of the conch.
    • His voice rose under the black smoke before the burning wreckage of the island; and infected by that emotion, the other little boys began to shake and sob too. And in the middle of them, with filthy body, matted hair, and unwiped nose, Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man's heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy.
    • william golding

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