Lord Of The Flies The Shattering of Reason within a Society William Golding in his novel Lord of the Flies symbolically describes the degeneration of a civilized society in three stages. Embedded within this story of a group of young boys struggling to survive alone on a deserted island are insights to the capacity of evil within the human soul and how it can completely destroy society. After a plane crash that results in their inhabitation of the island, the boys establish a democratic society that thrives on order, necessity, and unity. Slowly, however, the peaceful society that they create shatters through a path of hatred, disrespect, murder, and the release of the true human soul. Upon a desolate tropical island, the lost boys begin to organize themselves to gain a sense of stability, order, and brotherhood. They elect Ralph, the oldest boy at twelve years of age, as leader and use a conch found in the lagoon as a symbol of democracy and respect.
Two other children, Jack, the head of a choir group, and Simon, a small but intellectual boy, accompany Ralph on an expedition to determine whether the land is truly an island. They find that it is indeed true, and compose a plan to light a fire on the beach to create smoke; their only hope of rescue. After they obtain the glasses of an intelligent and rather fat child called Piggy, they make a fire using the sunlight and glass lenses. However, the fire spreads to the forest quickly and destroys the group’s supply of firewood. The boys shrug this off as an accident and Ralph and Simon commence work on shelters. They begin to build a society that contains rules and government.
‘I agree with Ralph,’ states Jack. ‘We’ve got to have rules and obey them. After all, we’re not savages’ (40). The boys establish bonds of friendship and work together to help one another, but soon forget what is truly most important to their survival civilized living. One morning, Ralph sees a ship on the horizon and realizes that the new fire they had built is no longer burning because of the negligence of the boys assigned to be watching it. He is furious, yet Jack and his choir group ignore Ralph’s complaints and begin hunting for a wild pig, setting out with dreams of chase, glory, and slayings.
The difference between common sense and minds influenced and dulled by eagerness grasps the majority of the boys and begins to disintegrate the peace within their society. Ralph talks to the boys about their carelessness and how it is detrimental to the entire island. Their respect for one another is wearing away slowly. They looked at each other baffled, in love and hate. All the warm salt water of the bathing pool and the shouting and splashing and laughing were only just sufficient enough to bring them together again (50). The true problem, however, is the beast.
A small child sees a beastie on the mountain and the entire group begins to talk about the subject with fear and intent of killing it, whatever it may be. After the fire is rekindled by Ralph’s orders, Sam and Eric, two young twins, are on duty watching and they spot a lumpy figure huddled on the forest floor several yards away. They run to the camp and tell the others about what they have seen. Jack, Ralph, and Roger decide to climb the mountain and search for the creature. They see the figure also and are able to make out its head, eyes, and teeth, and becoming frightened, run away. Once they return to the shelters, Jack calls a meeting to discuss the beast. In the meeting, Ralph takes control over the discussion and Jack becomes angry and yells about Ralph being chief.
He calls an election for a new leader, yet Ralph wins again, and because of this, Jack storms off down the beach yelling that he can live on his own. Shortly after this, Piggy and Ralph discover that they cannot find several boys in their camp. They realize that they have gone to live with Jack and that life on the island will never be the same again. Simon climbs to the top of the mountain, and finds the beast, but examines it to see what it truly is instead of hiding from the fear as before. He finds that it is a dead man wrapped partially in a parachute and runs down to the beach where Jack’s group, along with Ralph’s, is feasting.
As Simon bursts forth from the threshold of the woods, the boys mistake him for the beast and brutally attack him. Eventually they know it is not the beast, yet they continue to slaughter in their excitement and rage. Simon is dead; killed by those whom he depended on to survive. The next morning in Jack’s camp the savages tie up a small boy, Wilfred, to be beaten; the reason unknown and presumably non-existent. Reason has escaped the actions of the boys. As Sam and Eric said to Ralph: ‘Never mind what’s sense.
That’s gone’ (172) Jack comes to Ralph’s shelters in the middle of the night and steals Piggy’s glasses so that he can start a cooking fire at any time. Piggy is furious and along with Ralph, Sam, and Eric, the only boys outside Jack’s domain, go to Jack’s fort to try to recover the glasses. Instead of peaceful discussion, Roger murders Piggy by dropping a boulder on him and some boys capture Sam and Eric and take them into the fort. Ralph is alone now and defenseless except for a wooden spear. Jack forces all of the boys in his camp into a manhunt for Ralph and they form a line the width of the island, cutting off any escape routes.
Behind them trails a fire that will engulf the entire island. There is no chance for Ralph to evade them. The boy, alone and fearful, hides in a thick bush. The boys are close to finding him when he runs out and in his terror dashes to the shore of the beach. If not for the navy officer who stood there ahead of him, waiting to find who had created the smoke, the boys would have been left to disintegrate in the evil within themselves. They start in peace and end in hatred and murder.
With the exception of Ralph and Piggy, the boys completely abandon reason, civilization, and the thought of rescue. They fight the harmless beast that terrifies them, not knowing that something so much more fearful, deadly, and destructive lie within themselves. Being human, they have a capacity for evil inside of their soul that is immeasurable and can destroy the life of everyone around them, including their own. They never realize this and continue to break their morals, which were simply superficial rules of society that were fed to them unwillingly. They act upon these morals despite their own thoughts and emotions. The latter is the definition of civilization. As it wears away layer after layer in this book, the true human soul is bared, naked and fearless.
Bibliography Lord of the Flies English Essays.