Comparing Cruelty in The Lord of the Flies and Of Mice and Men

Comparing Cruelty in The Lord of the Flies and Of Mice and Men

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Cruelty in The Lord of the Flies and Of Mice and Men


"Man's inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn." (Robert Burns)

Man's inhumanity to man is clearly demonstrated in William Golding's work, The Lord of the Flies, as well as John Steinbeck's novel, Of Mice and Men.


In the novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck there are many events in the plot of the story that occur that prove that when man is cruel to man, some peoples lives are negatively affected. One instance in where this is proven true is when the men on the ranch and Curley's wife are cruel and discriminative against Crooks causing him to be the one to mourn. An example of how the men are discriminative towards Crooks is that he is forced to live in a shack away from the bunkhouse and also Crooks says that "They play cards in there, but I can't play because I'm black. They say I stink" and "I ain't wanted in the bunkhouse." An example of when Curley's Wife is critical towards Crooks is when she looks into his room to see what Lennie and Crooks are doing and then she states, shaking her head, that they left the weak ones behind. Also, she threatens to have Crooks hung because a black man should never talk to a white woman the way he just had. As a result of all of these discriminatory acts against him, Crooks feels unwanted and lonely because of his color and placement on the farm. Also those examples are part of the theme of the novel, people need to accept and understand those different from themselves, which also helps to prove the interpretation of the quote. Another example in this novel that proves that when man is cruel to man, the lives of people are negatively affected is when Curley picks on and tries to hurt Lennie. Curley chooses to fight Lennie because he thinks he won't fight back but because George gets angry and tells Lennie to fight back, he does. George being angry is not the only negative effect that Curley's teasing had on man, but also now Lennie is angry and in danger of getting in trouble and Curley himself gets hurt.

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The last example in the novel Of Mice and Men that proves this quote is when the men talk Candy into letting them kill his dog. They feel that the dog is old now and that they will only be helping the dog and themselves. This act contradicts the quote a little in that it is a humane act for the dog but it does leave Candy lonely and without a companion, causing him to mourn.


The other novel that helps to prove the interpretation of Robert Burn's quote to be correct is Lord of the Flies. In this novel there are many times when the characters are inhumane. Also the characterization of these characters helps to show the amount of cruelty in the story. One example in this story as to how the characters are inhumane and how this inhumanity to other humans causes people to mourn is when the boys are mean to Piggy and kill him. Throughout the story, Jack is the meanest of the boys to Piggy, whether it is not giving him food from the feast, just plain teasing him or stealing and breaking his glasses, he is being cruel and Piggy suffers because of this. And not only does Piggy suffer from this but some of the other boys do as well. For instance, Simon suffers because when Jack won't give Piggy his share of the meat, Simon feels obliged to give Simon some of his share, causing him not to have as much as he deserved. Also when Jack teases him, Ralph begins to feel bad for Piggy and guilty for teasing him in the beginning as well. And lastly, when Jack steals Piggy's glasses or causes them to break, the other boys are negatively affected because now they have nothing to use to light a fire. When the boys kill Piggy during the end of the novel, this is very inhumane, killing Piggy when all he was trying to do was being back order and rule to the island. And not only is Piggy affected but so is Ralph because now he has lost his best and one of his few friends. Another example in this novel that proves that a man's inhumanity to man causes many men to mourn is when the boys kill Simon. This act is inhumane because they make Simon suffer until his death and this causes many negative effects on other people. One of these effects is that now Simon is dead and he was the only one who knew the truth about the "beast" and how to try to conquer the beast. The second negative effect is that now there is no priest-like figure on the island and Ralph, Piggy and Samneric are feeling guilty and upset about being involved in the death of Simon. The last example in this novel that helps to prove the interpretation of the quote to be true is when Jack and his followers' torture Samneric. This is not humane because they are physically hurting Samneric and causing them to betray Ralph. This inhumane act not only affects Samneric but it also affects Ralph and the entire island. Because of Samneric giving up Ralph's hiding place during the torturing, the boys light the island on fire to drive Ralph (who is now in danger) out of his hiding place. Ralph is being affected because the other boys are hunting him and the entire island is affected because the fire is killing all the plant and animal life on the island. Although in the end Ralph is saved so he is no longer in danger, him and the rest of the island and boys, in many other ways, were still negatively affected through inhumane acts.


As seen through the two novels, Robert Burn's quote is proven mostly correct. Where the quote states that "countless thousands mourn", I feel that this should really be replaced by the statement that "many people are negatively affected". This is because man's inhumanity to man sometimes cause people to mourn, but more often the people are just hurt by the inhumanity and not necessarily mourning. So, in conclusion, the inhumanity of one man to another causes a negative effect on themselves and on the lives of many other people as well.

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