The Role of Adults in Lord of the Flies

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Sometimes we wonder: What truly makes one an adult? Do they have to be over 18 to be an adult? Do they need to have a good job or a home and family? Although there is no clear-cut answer for this question, in my eyes, adults are seen as responsible people who are able to properly function in the “real world” and have a clear mind to think of solutions for conflicts that may arise. The roles of these types of adults are a key factor in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. This is seen in many places throughout the story, such as in the boys’ society, their struggle and eventual loss of order, and their actions when reunited with an actual adult. Overall, adults are seen as a symbol of order for the boys on the island, a symbol which they, unfortunately, completely lose control of.

After realizing that there were currently no adults on the deserted island, Ralph blew on a conch shell he found with Piggy to gather the boys together. It was then that the boys decided to form a society under a chief (who was later chosen to be Ralph) and then assigned jobs (such as hunters), built shelters, and even decided on a system for group meetings centered around the conch. This society seems to be built in an attempt to maintain order on the island, like the adult world it was based on.

Although some boys like Ralph were exited to realize that there were no adults on the island, as seen when Ralph had “the delight of realized ambition [overcome] him” (8) once he saw that there were no adults on the island, the excitement didn’t last as their make-shift society dissolved due to conflicts. Some of the boys tried to maintain order in their society by reminding one another of authority adult figures, such as when Ralph reassured the ...

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..., mourning their horrid experience on the island, as seen when the text states, “…Infected by [grief], the other little boys began to shake and sob…and in the middle of them…Ralph wept for the end of innocence, and the darkness of man’s heart…” (202.)

Overall, although the boys tried to mimic adult society, they lacked the life experience needed to maintain a functioning, stable society and resolve conflicts. Ultimately, they needed to rely on a real adult to rescue them and ultimately restore order in their lives. The role of adults in Lord of the Flies was order, and without them, order completely collapsed on the island. Without adults and order, our world and society could become just like the one portrayed on the island in Lord of the Flies: completely savage.

Works Cited

Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. New York: Berkly, 1954. Print
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