One common interpretation of Lord of the Flies is that it focuses on the breakdown of civilization and the underlying savagery in each individual human being, always ultimately reverting back to an evil nature with a focus on the survival of the individual. Without rules and norms to guide people, communities will fall into disarray. "Civilization is the shield that mankind uses to cloak itself from its savage, animalistic ways." (Wheaton). However, their society doesn't fall apart, they simply are forced to change that community to better suit their environment. The book may in fact be a focus not on the individual or the break down of society, but on the bonding together of a community through collective dispelling of perceived evil through scape goating. The focus should not be on the fact that the boys are inherently evil, but the fact that they are part of a community where scape goating is an elemental form of cleansing. The boys aren't evil in nature, they are communal in nature. It is not that they are in a situation where each individual gives way to his own evil nature. It is, however, that the community gives way to its shared desire to focus attention on something or someone to blame. Through this blame, the society is held together in a common bond of violence. Rene' Girard writes,
"...By collective persecutions I mean acts of violence committed directly by a mob of murderers...The persecutions in which we are interested generally take place in times of crisis, which weaken normal institutions and favor mob formation. Such spontaneous gatherings of people can exert a decisive influence on institution...
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...: the Lord of the Flies.
New York: Abrahams-Dutton, 1962.
In class notes taken January 27, February 1, 3, and 8; 2000. Sacrificing Ritual in Literature
Jones, Adrienne. Apocalypse Postponed: The Ending of Lord of the Flies.
Author unknown. Lord of the Flies. http://research.studentadvantage.com/cgi-
Myren, Hege. Discipline
Riley, Carolyn, ed. Vol. 1 of Contemporary Literary Criticism. Detroit: Gale Research
See, Jennifer. The Lord of the Flies Bulletin Board: Breakdown of Society April 25, 2000 http://www.pernet.net/~chadly1/lord_of_the_flies/wwwboard/messages/4097.html
Wheaton, Paul. Untitled http://www.cgocable.net/~pwheaton/pessay.
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