LOTF Theme

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Civilization vs. Savage
Civilization vs. Savagery is one of the main themes in the novel, Lord of the Flies. Civilization forces people to suppress their darkest urges, whereas savages surrender to their darkest impulses. William Golding represents the differences in civilization and savagery in the conflict between the two main characters: Ralph, who represents civilization, order and leadership; and Jack, who represents savagery and the desire for power.
In Chapter 2, Ralph makes the rule that whoever has possession of the conch shell during the assemblies is the designated speaker. Here, the conch represents civilization and order, which are also represented by Ralph. Ralph is explaining to the rest of the boys their current circumstances, being that they are alone on an island without adults. He tries to remain positive so none of the boys will be scared. Then, one of the youngest boys gets ahold of the conch shell and says, “Tell us about the snake-thing” (Golding 35). This ruins the positive picture Ralph is trying to paint for everyone else, for they all begin to panic in fear of a possible “beastie” (Golding 36). Ralph remains calm and responds reassuringly with, “You couldn’t have a beastie, a snake-thing, on an island this size” (Golding 36). Ralph then adds on, “He was dreaming” (Golding 36) to further reassure the boys that there is no beastie. The fear of the beastie does not go away, however, and Ralph thinks that they should conquer their fear through reason, which is simply saying that there is not a beast. Jack agrees with Ralph, but also makes a side note to the conversation by saying, “But if there was a snake we’d hunt it and kill it. We’re going to hunt pigs to get meat for everybody. And we’ll look for the...

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... instances where the boys can no longer suppress their darkest urges, they lose all former ties with a civilized lifestyle. Once these ties are sufficiently severed there is nowhere for the boys to turn, other than towards the darkness and savagery within each and every one of them. This darkness can seem thick and impenetrable, however, just a glimpse of civilization and order can lighten the darkness within anyone. William Golding, while realizing this fact, chose to share it with the world by writing this tale. He showed that even the most proper British boys can become savage beasts within a few days, and then return to their old civilized lives once reintroduced by a familiar figure. No one is so far gone that they cannot be saved, and no one is immune to the savagery within.

Works Cited
Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. New York: Penguin Group, 2006.
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