When I was in grade 10, my English class read Lord of the Flies. I can’t say I remember all that much about the book, but I do have a very distinct memory of the projects we presented in front of the class.
We were split into groups and each group had to do a presentation on the same set of questions. I don’t know if all the other groups handled the project the same way, but my group split the questions up, making each member of the group responsible for presenting the answer to their questions.
The questions I took asked me to define what, in the book, was the Lord of the Flies and the Monster that was frequently mentioned. I chose the questions because the answer was so clear and obvious to me.
When it came time for the presentations, my group went last. So, before making my presentation, I first heard the question answered by several other people. I was astounded – every answer presented was almost exactly the same. They boiled down to, “The Lord of the Flies is the pig head the boys put on a stake, and the Monster is the dead parachuter stuck on the cliff.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Everyone had the same answer but me.
When I stood up to present my answer, I started by saying, “Well, my answer is a bit different than what others have said.” I then proceeded to explain how the Monster, while personified by the dead parachuter, was a representation of all the fears of the group of boys stranded on the island. Meanwhile, the Lord of the Flies was all the anger, hatred and violence that was awakened in the boys by their need to survive and their desires to do whatever they wanted. This was, of course, given visual representation by the bloody pig head on a spike, swarming with flies.
I remember the class staring at me, dumbfounded. I don’t recall if the teacher’s expression was shocked or impressed – and I have no memory of the mark I received on the project.
But I did find a deep understanding from that experience. You see, to me, the answer my classmates gave was too simple – they were facts pretty much stated in the book. What was the point in even asking those questions if there wasn’t something more? But others stopped at that answer, because, yes, it was obvious.
However, to me, my answer was just as obvious. It was simply more abstract, but it had to be what the question was asking about. On the other hand, the stares I received told me that what was obvious to me hadn’t been obvious to others.
From that, I learned that different things are obvious to different people – and that, generally speaking, when people find something they believe obvious, they stop. It’s obvious – why would they think about it further?
I learned that, just because something is obvious, that doesn’t mean it’s obvious to everyone.
Something being obvious doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true.
Click here to find the charity anthology containing a couple of my short stories.