English / Lord Of The Flies: Man'S Primitive Face

Lord Of The Flies: Man'S Primitive Face

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Autor:  anton  18 April 2011
Tags:  Primitive
Words: 1396   |   Pages: 6
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In the novel Lord of the Flies, William Golding displays the two different personalities that mankind possesses; one civilized, the other primitive. William Golding uses the setting, personalities, and imagery in Lord of the Flies to give the reader a detailed description of these two faces of man. The story’s setting is essential for the evolution of both sides of man. When an airplane full of schoolboys crashes on an island, only the children survive. The children scout out and find the island is roughly boat-shaped. It is a bit of irony in that the island the children are trapped on is shaped exactly like the thing that could save them (a boat). Despite this irony, they are for a fact, trapped. An ocean surrounds them and no one in the world even knows where they are. The boys, having been cut off from the world, must now create their own.

After a while the children realize that there are, "No grownups!" (Golding 7; ch. 1) This means that there are no parents or adults to give the boys rules or punish them if they do wrong, so they must learn how to govern themselves. Their first attempt imitates the world that they have grown up with, that of a civilized democracy. A conch shell is used to call “assemblies” and (meaningless) decisions are voted on (Golding 16, ch. 1). They keep a fire on the top of a mountain in hope for rescue and a return to their usual lives. This fire is a symbol of their still civilized society.

Unfortunately, soon the children tire of their sophisticated life. They want to play and rapidly lose interest in any job they happen to be doing. Ralph addresses the problem when he speaks to the group, "We have lots of assemblies. Everybody enjoys speaking and being together. We decide things. But they don't get done. We were going to have water brought from the stream and left in those coconut shells under fresh leaves. It worked for a few days. Now there's no water. The shells are dry. People drink from the river." All of their decisions soon degrade and fall apart. The children give into their more primitive side and now only concern themselves with playing. Hunting, which originally was only a practice of getting food becomes all-important. All of the children's fears develop into a “Beast” that they fear and awe. They make sacrifices to "the beast" to placate it and keep themselves safe. In the end, their magnificent society becomes no better than a gang of savages on this lush island.

The island is filled with resources, lots of fresh water and plenty of fruit ripe for the picking. "He walked with an accustomed tread through the acres of fruit trees, where the least energetic could find an easy if unsatisfying meal." Although rich with nature's luxury, the children are sorely wanting in technology. They do not even have matches. If it weren’t for Piggy's "specs", they would not have been able to start a fire. This need of technology both hinders their attempt to be civilized and hastens their evolution towards cruelty.

Ralph loses this fight and ultimately begins to revert into an archaic state. This is revealed close to the last part of the story when he has difficulty reasoning things all the way through. "Then, at the moment of greatest passion and conviction, that curtain flapped in his head and he forgot what he had been driving at." (Golding 163; ch. 10) Ralph's deterioration continues until he is no more than a creature, who uses its most fundamental instincts to escape the fire that threatens to burn the island down, and the rest of the tribe who want to hunt him down. "He shot forward, burst the thicket, was in the open, screaming, snarling, bloody."

Jack Merridew is the novel's enemy. He is the reverse of Ralph, well known by his malice and red hair. He loses both elections when choosing who will become the leader of the assembly and is fixated on supremacy. This is why he is as a result, so intent on hunting; it is a way of commanding his will upon a living thing.

Jack's climb to authority first begins when the younger children's worries start to alter their environment; twigs become creepers, shadows become demons, etc. Jack utilizes this terror to turn into the younger children's guardian. If the young ones do what he says, the "beast" cannot catch them. Before long, Jack decides to create his own society. It becomes based on this sort of ritual obeisance toward him and is shown through those sacrifices by which the tribe creates its beast, in that way sanctifying the fear and absurdity that directs the children's actions.

The conch used to control the assemblies is the icon of democracy and free speech. Although sufficient when used to draw together the children, it holds no influence when confronted with cruelty and oppression. This is revealed to us when Roger shatters the conch with the same stone that kills Piggy, successfully destroying the final bits and pieces of Ralph's civilized civilization.

The camouflage that Jack wears takes away his reserve by striping him of his individualism. When the rest his tribe begins to sport camouflage, they finish being individuals and develop into a horde. By destroying their individual character they lose their accountability. "He had even glimpsed one of them, striped brown, black, and red, and had judged that it was Bill. But really, thought Ralph, this was not Bill. This was a savage whose image refused to blend with that ancient picture of a boy in shorts and shirt." Even to Ralph, who at one time knew him, Bill has turned into something entirely different once he puts on the camouflage.

The progression of killing can be used to follow the children's shifting from purity to savagery. First, the boy with the birthmark inadvertently dies in a fire. Then, Simon dies in a brutal act committed by an assembly of people. Piggy is killed by Roger absolutely on purpose. At last the transformation is whole and the children have developed into complete savages. They decide to hunt Ralph down close to the end of the book, knowing full well that the chase will end in a massacre.

William Golding uses Lord of the Flies with the intention of telling us that the most dangerous opponent is not the evil found lacking, but the evil found inside all of us. At the conclusion of the story, Ralph and the other boys become conscious of the awfulness of their actions, “The tears began to flow and sobs shook him. He gave himself up to them for the first time on the island; great shuddering spasms of grief that seemed to wrench his whole body. His voice rose under the black smoke before the burning wreckage of the island; and infected by that emotion, the other little boys began to shake and sob too. And in the middle of them, with filthy body, matted hair, and unwiped nose, Ralph wept for the end of innocence.”

Regrettably, the naval officer who rescues the children has however to learn the message these boys have. He will bring the kids back into the "civilized" world, which just so happens to be in a war at the moment. Mockingly, the children have survived one primal and immature morality organization only to be thrown right back into a larger one, World War II. Malevolence will forever be a component of man. Golding's novel was meant to show us that this evil must be acknowledged, not disregarded, or the penalty will be dear.

Works Cited

1. Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. New York: The Berkeley Group, 1954.

2. Gerenser, Scott, comp. "Lord of the Flies Summary." Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. 2 Oct. 1998. 28 Apr. 2006 .

3. Lee, I, comp. "Understanding "Lord of the Flies": a Novel by William Golding." A Research Guide for Students. 24 Apr. 2006. 24 Apr. 2006 .



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