Lord of the Flies: Is There Hope for Man?

Lord of the Flies: Is There Hope for Man?

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One of the main themes in William Golding's 1954 novel Lord of the Flies is that without civilization, there is no law and order. The expression of Golding's unorthodox and complex views are embodied in the many varied characters in the novel. One of Golding's unorthodox views is that only one aspect of the modern world keeps people from reverting back to savagery and that is society. Golding shows the extreme situations of what could possibly happen in a society composed of people taken from a structured society then put into a structureless society in the blink of an eye. First there is a need for order until the people on the island realize that there are no rules to dictate their lives and take Daveers into their own hands. Golding is also a master of contrasting characterization. This can be seen in the conflicts between the characters of Jack, the savage; Simon, the savior; and Piggy, the one with all the ideas.


Arguably, the most savage person on the island is Jack Merridew. The first image of Jack and his group is presented as "something dark" and a "creature" before Golding goes on to explain "the creature was a party of boys." Ironically, that is exactly what happens. The beast turns out to be the evil within the children themselves. Jack conflicts with most of the other major characters from the beginning. He calls Piggy "Fatty" repeatedly and opposes Jack almost every step of the way. As the novel progresses, Jack becomes more domineering and assertive, slowly losing all of his former morals and civility. The one point in the novel where this happens is when Jack paints his face: "He made one cheek and one eye socket white. . ." Then Jack proceeds to cover the other half of his face in red, foreshadowing his perpetual recruiting and takeover of the island. Jack ends up as the other authority figure on the island by force and by exploiting the other boys need for savagery. The need for savagery arises because of Golding's views of humans as being vicious by nature. Jack, being a leader in his own right, can not see the light of day again once he has seen the darkness of self indulgence and absolute power.


Simon, on the other hand, is not wild at all and can easily differentiate the light from the darkness.

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He is the quiet one, the thinker. Simon is the only one that can keep good and evil straight throughout the entire novel. He stays to himself until he is needed or feels that he can contribute something to the group. Simon never directly conflicts with anyone, although there are some children that think he is odd and only comment once he has left or while he is walking away. A reason for Simon's seclusion may be because he has epilepsy: "In Simon's right temple, a pulse began to beat on the brain." He does not want the other boys to know about his problem. If they knew about his problem then that would disclose a flaw to the group and Simon would be even more susceptible to injuries. If Jack had known and had decided to deliberately kill Simon, all Jack would have to do is wait until Simon was having an attack then have someone attack Simon while he is defenseless. Simon is the one unique character in the novel because there are not many people in the world like him. There are many Ralphs, Jacks, and Piggys but few live with the attitude of Simon.


The only character in Lord of the Flies that does not change for the worse throughout the novel is Piggy. Piggy does not always have the authority or the attention to get his ideas across, but Ralph does listen to him for the most part. Piggy first starts out with the idea to call everyone to a meeting by using the conch. Then he thinks to create a fire on the mountain to attract ships. If it was not for Piggy's idea to call the first meeting, the kids would have stayed scattered across the island: " 'You haven't seen any others, have you?' " That would have been worse because the island would end up with many small savage groups killing everyone off instead of one large group killing a few people. Piggy, in other terms, is the unifying factor on the island of chaos.



Finally, Golding's wartime novel about a group of British boys stranded on an island has become one of the major works of the 20th century. Through his expression of his viewpoints by way of Jack, Simon, and Piggy, Golding creates a society that both exemplifies man's worst fears and his strengths. The fears are Jack and his extremes while the strengths are the facts that Simon and Piggy would rather, subconsciously, die than revert back to their savage state. So maybe all hope is not lost after all.

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