A Flawed Society
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William Goldings allegoric novel, Lord of the Flies illustrates many issues of human society through a group of young, stranded, British boys. The story takes place on an island during World War II. As a result of a plane crash, several young schoolboys are left to survive on their own in an entirely new environment. Left with no other choice but to wait to be rescued, they try to figure out what is necessary to sustain a civilized life similar to the one before. They start out fairly well, demonstrating a relatively democratic and cooperative society. However, as life in the crude territory continues, and the hope for rescue diminishes, the inevitable happens. Things begin to fall apart. The neglecting of rules and their desire for fun and violence overtake them, ultimately destroying any order or peace they had on the island. Although the novel was written several decades ago, current happenings such as the Columbine shooting show that Goldings views on these issues are valid even to this day.
The first and most obvious aspect that Golding points out, are the consequences brought on by a weak government. He places his characters in a completely different environment where civilization is nonexistent, and the only form of authority is in the form of a 12-year-old boy named Ralph. In the beginning, the boys are somewhat pleased with their newfound freedom. However, this switch in government and society eventually leads to the development of an indifference to rules and civility. It starts out with the conflict between Jack and Ralph. Jack, whose main priority is to keep the groups meat supply steady, and Ralph, whose main priority is to maintain control, argues numerous times in the book. As tension builds up between the two, the arguments grow more serious. At one point, Ralph tells Jack, ” Youre breaking the rules!” and Jack replies, ” Who cares?” (p. 91). This event foreshadows Jacks rebellion against Ralph and the series of events following the rebellion that lead to the final collapse of their society. The collapse is indicated by the destruction of the conch. The conch, which had called the meetings into place and moreover gave the right to speak in one, clearly represented order and law on the island. ” The conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist” (p. 181). At that moment, it was not only the conch that ceased to exist, but their societys remaining stability as well.
Another major viewpoint Golding emphasizes is the natural desire for fun and violence. Upon arriving on the island, the boys do not realize that this isnt just another one of their playtime fantasies where all they have to do is revert to reality once the fun wears out. They rather see it as a vacation, their own-personal-island-size playground as shown in the quote, ” This is our island. Its a good island. Until the grown-ups come fetch us, well have fun” (p. 35). Perhaps a bit too much fun seeing that they miss their chance to be rescued early in the novel. Jack, who is the leader of a group of hunters, develops a rather grotesque passion for killing and hunting. Initially, his main concern was obtaining meat, but as he accomplishes his first victory hunt, he becomes obsessed. All his energy and time is spent preparing and planning his next hunt. One day he decides to take his entire hunting group on a hunt, including the ones who are suppose to watch the fire (which is necessary to signal ships and planes that pass by). Unfortunately, during the firewatchers absence, the flame dies and a ship passes by. Ralph, who finds this out, confronts Jack, obviously furious that Jack had put the interest of the hunt before the rescue. Jack responds, ” The job was too much. We needed everyone…. We needed meat” (p. 71). He uses the ridiculous excuse of needing meat, when if they had been rescued, there would be no need for any. Sadly, even Ralph gives into the natural desires as he participates in the brutal murder of young Simon. Before long, hunting