Battle between Civilization and Savagery in Lord of the Flies

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Battle between Civilization and Savagery in Lord of the Flies

Civilization today has become almost completely reliant on technology. Almost the entire planet is connected by phone lines, roads, air travel, or the internet. People converse with others thousands of miles away through modern connections, watch live broadcasts of news in foreign lands, or talk on wireless phones by use of satellites. We are governed by laws designed to protect us. We live in heated homes with fresh water and electricity. We commute to work by car or mass transit. We live by rules, values, and ideals that keep the peace. Our world is organized, convenient, and technologically advanced. What would happen if suddenly our civilization disappeared, leaving us with only the things we were wearing, the ideals we were raised with, the things we could find in nature, and our instincts? This is exactly what happened to the boys in Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Ralph, Piggy, Jack, and the other stranded students find themselves on a deserted island with only their clothes, Piggy's glasses, a few choice items from the island, such as the conch, and their knowledge of the world they once lived in. The boys must find a way to get together and survive until they can be rescued despite the instinct to break all ties with civilization and become savage. The conch, Piggy's glasses, the fire, and the boys' clothes symbolize the last remaining ties to civilization and the refusal to give in to savagery.

First, the conch, although not used in the technological civilization, is symbolic for its function, value, and power. The function of the conch, when blown, is much like a school bell or a church bell. It is used to summon people...

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... millions of species of animals, and the pollution of our planet. Just as Einstein has declared that he should never have created the atom bomb, perhaps we should never have become so "advanced." Maybe our technology and our civilization, instead of being our savior, will be our downfall.

Works Cited and Consulted:

Baker, James R. "Why It's No Go." Critical Essays on William Golding. Ed. James R. Baker. Boston: G.K. Hall & Co., 1988.

Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. London: Faber and Faber, 1958.

Hynes, Samuel. "William Golding's Lord of the Flies." Critical Essays on William Golding. Ed. James R. Baker. Boston: G.K. Hall & Co., 1988.

Kinkead-Weekes, Mark, and Ian Gregor. William Golding: a critical study. London: Faber and Faber, 1997.

Moody, Philippa. Golding: Lord of the Flies, a critical commentary. London: Macmillan, 1964.
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