“Thinking as a Hobby” Book by William Golding
The three statuettes in the headmaster’s office that Golding writes about are a miniature of Rodin’s Thinker, a miniature of Venus de Milo, and a statuette of a crouching leopard. In Golding’s view, the statuette of Venus represented the third grade of thinking. While it is a symbol of beauty and love, it also represents feelings and prejudices, which, according to Golding, characterize grade three thinkers, who tend to “feel, rather than think” (Golding 127). A crouching leopard, in turn, represents grade two thinkers, as they “destroy without having the power to create,” and their main goal is to detect contradictions (Golding 128). Finally, the statuette of the Thinker is a symbol of grade one thinking for Golding, as it represents deep contemplation that does not result from a desire to discredit others but from the purpose of finding meaning and truth.
The grade one thinker mentioned by Golding is Albert Einstein, which seems obvious. For the brief five minutes that they see each other, Einstein makes a strong impression on Golding, even though they barely manage to talk or understand each other. An example of grade two thinking is Golding himself when he was a teenager. He finds pleasure in detecting contradictions and confronting grade three thinkers, which can be exemplified by his argument with Ruth (Golding 128). Because he was able to prove them wrong, he used to disregard people with this type of thinking. Finally, an example of a grade three thinker is Mr. Houghton, one of Golding’s schoolteachers. Although he always talked about the virtues of clean living, his own life was guided by feelings, not thinking, and he never demonstrated any of the principles he preached.
Golding, William. “Thinking as a Hobby.” The Norton Reader, edited by Linda H. Peterson and John C. Brereton, New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2004, pp. 124-130.