William Golding’s Iconoclastic Views about the Neanderthal Man in The Inheritors

Sayed Mohammed Youssef


William Golding has been identified as a nonconformist whose opinions always go contrary to what is customarily accepted or established. This is shown in all his novels, more specifically The Inheritors, in which he defies long-established opinions held by anthropologists, historians, archaeologists as well as many others about the Neanderthals and their immediate successors the Homo sapiens. Though my PhD was about some of Golding's novels, no single word is mentioned in my PhD dissertation about his challenging novel The Inheritors, which is still regarded by both critics and readership as most complicated. Golding's intention in this novel is not merely to rebut the clichés and stereotypes of the Neanderthals, but also to describe them as enjoying uniquely far sublime qualities that make them outdo their rivals, the Homo sapiens. Therefore, he portrays them very sympathetically, and their plight tragically, thereby demonstrating his scepticism about the moral superiority of the Homo sapiens, the real 'inheritors' of the earth. The aim of this article is to discuss Golding's repudiation of such convictions by examining in some detail the novel's thematic structures, characterisation and settings. Likewise, the present article will focus on the clarity of the novel's narrative style that shows the simplicity, if not naivety, of the Neanderthal man's life juxtaposed to the complexity and maturity of his rivals' language and life style.  

Keywords: Clichés, Homo sapiens, iconoclast, the Neanderthal man, nonconformist, stereotypes

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