In The New Yorker, Joe Keohane gives us an updated, modernized version of William Golding’s 1954 book:
By the time Ralph finished blowing the conch, a large crowd had formed.
“Well, then,” he said, clearing his throat. “First rule: we can’t have everyone talking at once.”
Jack was on his feet. “We’ll have rules!” he yelled excitedly. “Lots of rules!”
Ralph explained, “We need to have ‘hands up,’ like at school. Then I’ll pass the conch.”
“Conch?” someone asked.
“That’s what this shell’s called,” Ralph said. “I’ll give the conch to the next person to speak. He can hold it while he’s speaking. And he won’t be interrupted, except by me.”
“Just because we’re stranded doesn’t give you the right to use non-inclusive language,” Jack said.
The littluns muttered in assent.
“Uh, O.K.,” Ralph said. “So he or she can hold this conch when he or she is …”
“He or she,” a littlun cried, “imposes a binary view of sexuality that excludes the gender-non-conforming.”
“I feel unsafe!” Percival whimpered.
“O.K.,” Ralph said. “During assembly, any person who holds the conch—”
“Excuse me,” Roger began, “remind us again why you get to interrupt us even if you don’t have the conch?”
“Because I’m the chief,” Ralph said. “I was chosen.”
“I didn’t vote for you,” Roger said, with a frown.
“We had a vote. The majority rules.”
“Oh, that’s brilliant — the majority,” Jack scoffed. The littluns tittered. “If anything, that means you have even less of a right to interrupt than we do!” Jack faced the others. “If you agree with me, wiggle your fingers.”
They wiggled their fingers.
“Look, I’m trying to get us rescued by the grownups,” Ralph said, gesturing toward a plane that had been circling the island for some time, and now seemed to be flying away.
“You are speaking from a position of privilege,” Jack said, “so you have no right to criticize us or tell us what to do.”