Golding's View of Man and War Exposed in Lord of the Flies

Golding's View of Man and War Exposed in Lord of the Flies

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Golding's View of Man and War Exposed in Lord of the Flies


  "...Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man's heart" (Golding 223).  An author's view of human behavior is often reflected in their writing. The novel, Lord of the Flies, by William Golding is an example of a literary work that demonstrates the author's view of man, as well his opinion of war.


Golding's Lord of the Flies is highly demonstrative of Golding's opinion that society is a thin and fragile veil that when removed shows man for what he truly is, a savage animal. Perhaps the best demonstration of this given by Golding is Jack's progression to the killing of the sow. Upon first landing on the island Jack, Ralph, and Simon go to survey their new home. Along the way the boys have their first encounter with the island's pigs. They see a piglet caught in some of the plants. Quickly Jack draws his knife so as to kill the piglet. Instead of completing the act, however, Jack hesitates. Golding states that, "The pause was only long enough for them to realize the enormity of what the downward stroke would be" (Golding page #). Golding is suggesting that the societal taboos placed on killing are still ingrained within Jack.


The next significant encounter in Jack's progression is his first killing of a pig. There is a description of a great celebration. The boys chant "Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Spill her blood" (Golding page #). It is clear from Golding's description of the revelry that followed the killing that the act of the hunt provided the boys with more than food. The action of killing another living thing gives them pleasure. The last stage in Jack's metamorphosis is demonstrated by the murder of the sow. Golding describes the killing almost as a rape. He says, "Jack was on top of the sow, stabbing downward wherever pig flesh appeared ... Jack found the throat, and the hot blood spouted over his hands. The sow collapsed under them and they were heavy and fulfilled upon her" (Golding page #). In this case it is certain that the boys display animal savagery.


Because they have been away from organized society for such a long time, the boys of the island have become Golding's view of mankind, vile, destructive beasts.

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Although Golding shows that the longer one is away from society the closer to his view one becomes, the institution of civilization does not escape his criticism. Golding shows through many examples that those who are "civilized" are just as prone to violence and war as those who are isolated. The first example presented in the novel occurs when the boys attempt to emulate the British democratic government. The boys prize the adults that run the government as the best decision makers. It is these "civilized" adults, however, who started the war which has forced the boys onto the island. Also, in their mimicking of adult society, one of the first things that the boys do is establish the choir as an army or a group of hunters.


Golding also feels that war is a result of humankind's vile nature as is evidenced when Ralph asks for a sign from the adult world. Ralph does receive his sign in the form of a dead parachute shot down in an air battle above the island. This can be interpreted as saying that the savagery existent in man is even shown in the  "civilized" world through acts of war. Golding clearly sees war as an action of destruction caused by man because of his inherently feral nature.


Golding views man as a brutal creature whose vile traits are brought out by isolation from society.  His characters become increasingly more sadistic when placed in a difficult circumstance.  In the two murders that occur, those of Piggy and Simon, the killers do not care about what they are doing as they are caught up in the intense feeling of the kill. Golding clearly reveals his opinions on human nature as well as war. Through the actions of his characters, Golding attempts to illustrate that under chaotic circumstances, when removed normal society, man reverts to what his nature deems him to be, a destructive creature. Golding also feels that war is a result of man's natural cruelty and innate desire to hurt others. 



1. When quoting you must always put in parentheses the name of the author and the page on which the quote can be found. 

2. How do your two points, Golding's view of man and his opinion of war tie into one another? If society is a veil to cover man's savagery, why is war acceptable within society? 

3. You make a good point that society is a veil covering the savagery of man.  You also make a good point of how this veil will disappear and savagery will emerge without the constant pressures of society.  To clarify your paper, you need to make a better connection between Golding's opinion of war and evil apparent in man's isolation.
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