The Hunger Games, there was Sir William Golding’s novel, The Lord of the Flies. When a group of English school boys is stranded on an island, Golding muses the idea that violent human tendencies will break through the shell of civilization and innocence surrounding each child. As their time on the island increases the boys’ civility and logic decreases until they commit the unthinkable. Fighting in World War II, Golding saw first-hand how brutal man can be to one another. To be exact, being on the beaches of Normandy during Dooms Day, Golding definitely witnessed the extremity of man’s true vulgarities.
In this novel, the theme most prominently displayed is that the loss of innocence can cause the savage impulses in human beings to take over. Golding molds this theme through the story’s plot along with his style of writing and development of each character. The Lord of the Flies begins with a group of English school boys who have crash landed on a deserted island, presumably brought down by a bomb in the midst of war. To the boys’ delight there are absolutely no adults anywhere on the island. They soon realize, however; that this could be a terrible thing. They need adults to be rescued.
In the exposition, the reader is introduced to Ralph and Piggy. Ralph is masculine and authoritative whereas Piggy is chubby and timid. While exploring, the two find a conch shell on the beach and since Piggy has asthma, he teaches Ralph how to use it. The rising actions begin when Ralph and Piggy use the conch to call the other school boys on the island. The group decides that they need to create their own government in order to heighten their chances of survival and rescue. Ralph is voted as the leader of the government and Jack is appointed as the head of the hunters.
It is brought to the older boys’ attention that the “littleuns” believe they are being stalked by a beast inhabiting the island but, they ignore it for the time being. The boys start a fire on top of a tall mountain so passing ships will be able to see the smoke and aid in their rescue. By accident, they set a large portion of the island on fire and that is when the first boy goes missing. The boys become more and more barbaric as their time on the island increases. Instead of satiating their hunger with fruits and vegetables, they deem meat a necessity.
Jack makes it his quest to kill a pig. When he finally achieves his goal, Ralph chides him for letting the fire on top of the mountain burn out. The climax of the story takes place after the group of boys splits into two separate tribes. Jack’s tribe is immensely primitive whereas Ralph’s tribe consists of only himself, Piggy, SamnEric, and a few littleuns. Their goal is rescue. However, while visiting Jack’s tribe, the boys engage in a caveman like dance. Caught up in the moment, they kill Simon mistaking him for the beast.
The falling actions start when Jack steals Piggy’s glasses which is the only means of starting a fire on the whole island. In desperate need of warmth and a signal fire, Ralph’s tribe confronts Jack and his own. It is then when Rodger kills Piggy, SamnEric are held hostage, and the man-hunt for Ralph ensues. The resolution happens after Jack’s tribe sets ablaze the entire island in pursuit of Ralph. Seeing the smoke, a British naval ship passing by rescues the remaining boys. Only, who will save the adults from the real war?
The major theme portrayed in Sir William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies is that the loss of innocence is brought about by human being’s true savage nature. Before the group of boys were stranded on an island, they were blind to the cruelties of the world and humans in general. Aged from about six to twelve years old, every boy viewed the world as a carefree play zone without any consequences. An example of this is when the boys accidentally set the island on fire in the beginning. Instead of being fearful, the boys jumped around with hearts full of glee.
The only one with any common sense, Piggy, snapped the boys into reality by bringing up the fact that if the whole island burns down their chances of survival go with it. Slowly, the boys’ hearts are hardened. Killing is effortless. A pig is just a pig, a human being is no greater than a pig. This is evident when Rodger kills Piggy. Golding writes, “His head opened and stuff came out and turned red. Piggy’s arms and legs twitched a bit, like a pig’s after it has been killed. “(165). Near the end of the novel, any regard for human life is tossed out the window.
After Simon is mobbed and beaten to death, it’s all downhill. Piggy’s death followed Simon’s and, if not for rescue, Ralph would have been the next (and probably not the last) victim. At the end of the novel, Ralph weeps for the loss of innocence. Perhaps the most innocent of all the boys was Percival. He recited his address and name, as Golding described, like an “incantation. ” He even stayed in one of the huts for two days crying for his parents. It is completely heart-wrenching that at the end, poor Percival no longer remembered his address.
Golding makes very good use of characters in Lord of the Flies, he shows both good and evil through each boy. One of the characters that represents goodness is Simon. He is the model of compassion and purity. Additionally, he always maintains the most positive outlook. Simon is very different from the other boys, he seems to always be helping the Littluns and many other vulnerable boys such as Piggy. “Simon sitting between the twins and Piggy, wiped his mouth and shoved his piece of meat over the rocks to Piggy, who grabbed it. ” (Golding, pg. 4) This quote interprets an example of a time when Simon helped Piggy by giving him food and portrays Simon’s wholeheartedness. Another example would be when Simon helps the Littluns pick fruit from high to reach places. On the other hand, Golding shows the evil within man through Jack. Jack almost symbolizes cruel political leaders, such as Castro, Hussein, Hitler, etc. He is the leader of the hunters. The first time he is presented the opportunity to kill a pig, he was morally unable to do so. Which revealed how Jack was civilized; however, as the story progressed Jack was more than willing to kill.
Moreover, in the beginning of the novel Jack says, “‘We’ve got to have rules and obey them. After all, we’re not savages. We’re English, and the English are best at everything. ‘” (Golding, pg. 40) This quote depicts how Jack thought he would never become a savage, because he is “English. ” In the end Jack embodies a blood thirsty brute wrapped up in his fantasy of finally being chief. Besides the use of character, Golding uses symbolism to further convey his theme of man’s innate evil. Almost every object in the story symbolizes something more important than what it really is.
An obvious symbol in the novel that aptly represents evil is the beast. No one wants to believe that there is a beast on the island. Jack and Ralph deny it as just a figment of the young ones’ imaginations For example, Jack says, “You Littluns started all this! With the fear talk. Beasts! Of course we’re frightened sometimes but we put up with being frightened. Only Ralph says your scream in the night. What does that mean but nightmares? Anyway, you don’t hunt or build or help–you useless lot of crybabies! That’s what. And as for the fear– you’ll have to put up with that like the rest of us. (75) This depicts that when fear begins to build up inside of humans, they begin to turn toward people around them to take the blame. It gives a view of how much hatred and selfishness man is capable of holding. Golding’s use of a beast to symbolize evil is more than appropriate since the word “beast” itself connotes anything but goodness. This book is definitely a must-read for anyone who has a hankering for classical literature. Never boring and full of exciting adventure, it becomes difficult to put this book down.
While a group of young boys killing each other seems foreign and impossible, it is a grisly reality that many children face every day. According to vision. org, A May 2006 Africa Research Bulletin reported that, “in states such as Angola, Burundi, Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda, children, some no more than seven or eight years of age, are recruited by government armed forces almost as a matter of course,” while rebel forces in Sierra Leone were known to recruit children as young as five.
To make the children less conscience about killing, some groups practice cannibalism, forcing their new recruits to drink the blood or eat the flesh of a child they’ve been commanded to kill. Other groups make children addicted to drugs to deaden their sense of morality. A commonly used drug is brown-brown, cocaine mixed with gun powder. However, they also impose crack cocaine, amphetamines, marijuana, and tranquilizers. Both governments and resistance groups use young children because they are easier to mold into fearless killing machines.
Some children voluntarily join the cause. Most have horrific home lives, they face starvation, poverty, and extreme thirst. Many are orphans and the group offers a sense of belonging and a chance to take revenge on those who killed their families. The loss of innocence is immense. Children are forced to grow up fast even before they are recruited into an army. Perhaps this is why many children learn so quickly how to numb their logic; the loss of innocence opens the door for man’s savage tendencies to rise above. The road to recovery is long for these child soldiers.
It often requires psychological evaluations and drug rehabilitation. While technically they are still children, they will never be the same. Many have witnessed more death and despair than most Americans will see on their televisions. Whether it is a group of English school boys deserted on an island or a child soldier looking for belonging, it is glaringly apparent that the vulgarities capable of human beings will out shine innocence in dire situations. Golding aptly represents this theme in his novel, The Lord of the Flies.
Don’t worry, the content is not as heavy as this essay makes it seem but, it does require one to think. Did the island drive the boys to murder or, due to the nature of man, were they murderers all along and the island just gave them an excuse? Either way, Golding’s work should be read, admired, and carefully researched for one to gain their own opinion. The Lord of the Flies is a must read that promises and intense adventure riddled with surprises; however, it demands be read with understanding and careful precision to fully understand the whole meaning of the book.