Born Evil or Made Evil? Analysis of Lord of the Flies

Born Evil or Made Evil?

 The question regarding whether humans are naturally good or evil becomes a topic of discussion when people see something morally wrong happen in their lives and then start to wonder why some people do bad things. They begin to question: are humans naturally born evil it is an internal condition that is actually subjugated by the rules and norms of society? Or are humans in fact, instinctively good people and the evil that is encountered is an external condition that occupies our goodness? In the novel, Lord of the Flies, written by William Golding, a group of young private school boys become stranded on an island where their means of survival are limited. When they arrive, most of the boys were decent kids, however, after living on the island for just a few days, the reader is able to see how the change in the boys’ surroundings affects their attitude towards others and the situation as a whole. A new climate can impact how people think and act towards others. Therefore, humans are inherently and fundamentally good people until they are tempted by evil or exposed to a corrupt environment.

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 There have been experiments done with babies to suggest this idea that every person is born inherently good. It also shows that babies can tell the difference between good and evil and when given the choice, they will choose good every time. In an article, “Do babies know good from evil,” they tested this idea on a ten-month-old, an eight-month-old, and a three-month-old. One baby would watch as a ball tried to climb up a hill. As ball is trying to go up, either a square would be blocking its way, or a triangle could try to help the ball. When asked to choose between the square or the triangle, the babies chose triangle every time. Within this article presented by the New York Post in 2013, the composer of the piece, Susannah Cahalan quotes psychologist and cognitive scientist at Yale University, Paul Bloom, who recites, “…babies have a general appreciation of good and bad behavior, one that spans a range of interactions, including those that the babies most likely have never seen before.” Essentially, people are born good but they don’t always stay that way. As children, we “have a general appreciation of good and bad behavior” and understand what is right and what is wrong. Even babies who don’t know how to talk yet know if something is immoral and unethical which means we today understand that, but our way of seeing things might be skewed based on past experiences. Obstacles people face will affect how we turn out and how we treat others.

This idea is shown in Lord of the Flies when the boys get stranded on the island and are forced to change their way of living. In the beginning of the novel, the boys on the island are young and innocent kids. One of the books main antagonist, Jack, has done multiple horrendous things throughout the novel, however, even Jack can be shown as a relatively sane person when they first arrive on the island. On page 31 in Chapter 1, the boys become aware of how hungry they are, so Jack goes out and tries to kill a pig for dinner. “Jack drew his knife again with a flourish… There came a pause, a hiatus… The pause was only long enough for them to understand what an enormity the downstroke would be.” Jack hesitating to kill the pig in the beginning of the novel, it shows that he still has some humanity left in him. When there “came a pause,” it demonstrates that the thought of killing the pig was too much for Jack to handle but then promises to finish next time because the shame of not following through is worse. Jack is still a normal person who understands the difference between what is right and what is wrong because he has only been on the island a few days. The longer he and the rest of the boys are there, the more their moral compass will collapse.

As the novel progresses though, Jack and the rest of the boys lose their humanity after coming to the realization that they are most likely not going to get off the island. This means they have to completely change their ways of living from how it was before. Once they recognize this predicament, they start to doubt one another and disregard all of the rules they had set in place. Their new mindset is that they don’t need order any more. Jack is one of the first boys to neglect the rules, causing the little guidelines left on the island, to disappear completely. He becomes malicious and does not care about anyone but himself, being controlled by his pursuit of individual happiness. This new environment that he and all the boys are forced to adapt to, forces their savagery instincts to come out. When Jack begins to talk about killing a pig, “The madness came into [Jack’s] eyes again. ‘I thought I might kill’” (57). Jack claims he needs to kill the pigs so all the boys can eat but when he talks about killing the pigs, “madness came into his eyes.” The boys, who had previously chosen Ralph as their leader, are now starting to lean towards Jack to take over since they can’t stand the hunger anymore. At that moment, they have given themselves over to the barbaric ways. Food is a necessity, so they have to get some, but it is how they get the food that is concerning. When the boys were killing the bore, “She blundered into a tree, forcing a spear still deeper; and after that any of the hunters could follow her easily by the drops of vivid blood” (135). The boys have gone from understandable food related slaughter to something totally different. The hunt is no longer about just having meat to eat, rather bathing in their power over a helpless animal. Being on the island has forced Jack and the rest of the hunters have become inhumane by performing these horrible acts to the pig like “forcing a spear” into her. They could just do what is reasonable and respectful by killing it quickly just to eat, but they instead, they terrorized and played with it like a toy. All of the boys have gone through a series of unfortunate circumstances and because of that, they decide that the only way they are going to survive is to have evil overpower them.

 While there are many people who point to Ralph as resisting the temptation of evil, this, in fact, is not the case. Ralph is actually shown killing multiple people. When the boys began to recite their terrifying dance, Piggy and Ralph joined them, “Piggy and Ralph, under the threat of the sky, found themselves eager to take a place in this demented but partly secure society” (Golding 152). Ralph made it seem like he was staying away from the hunters, but as soon as the chant and the dance started, he joined in. Ralph found himself  “eager” to join the dance, which shows how he has fallen into the peer pressure, resulting him to participate in the act of murdering Simon. At this point, Ralph turned more towards savagery than civility.

 Human beings are inherently good but when fronted by evil or exposed to a different way of living that is not suitable, they will turn to evil. People are corrupt by the internal pressure of violence and evil human nature. Although individuals are born with a good set of morals, depending on the environment, including who they choose to associate yourself with, they will begin to stray away from the good. The Lord of the Flies shows how being presented by the conflict of being on the island caused all of the boys to have heinous behavior. Essentially, there is evil in everyone, however, it is not necessary to express that emotion in a violent manner and we need to stay civilized in order to have a somewhat safe and secure life.

Works Cited

Cahalan, Susannah. “Do Babies Know Good from Evil?” New York Post, New York Post, 26 Oct. 2013,

Golding, William G. Lord of the Flies. New York, Berkley Publishing Group, 1954.

Lord of The Flies, Civilization vs Savagery

The theme for Lord of the Flies can be different things to different people. Some of the themes could be good vs. evil, sensibility vs. impulsiveness, or civilization vs. savagery. In Lord of the Flies there are two sides conflicting with each other throughout the whole story, and these are civilization vs. savagery. In Lord of the Flies civilization represents good while savagery represents evil. Civilization is the good inside of man to choose to live by rules, under authority, act reasonable, and peaceful with others. Savagery represents the evil of choosing not to live peacefully with others and not live by rules, but instead living to gain power over others and acting violently. However, living by rules and authority does not always guarantee peace and acting violently does not make someone a savage. The boys in Lord of the Flies show the decision they have to make whether to live by rules or to live violently and gain power for themselves; this shows the boys’ change of behavior from being civilized and having good behavior to being wild and violent, as shown in the two main characters Ralph and Jack, and the loss of the boys’ innocence.

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When Ralph and Piggy arrive on the island they realize that there are other boys on the island other than themselves and decide to gather the boys all together by blowing through a conch that they find. . Once all the boys are gathered, Ralph tells them they need a chief to rule over them. Some thought that they still needed adult leadership and asked, “Aren’t there any adults?” (Golding 20). Once they realized there were no adults on the island with them, they were not exactly sure what to do. The boys decide to still stick by previous rules and behavior. They decide they want a leader when they say, “Vote for a chief!” (Golding 22). This shows the boys believed in some kind of leadership whether an adult or an older kid. Once they voted Ralph as chief they also agreed to use the conch that Ralph used to call them together. The conch plays a very important role throughout the story. The conch helps gather meetings and also allows the person holding it to speak. This is an example of order among the boys. The conch governs the group of boys more than Ralph does. As the boys’ good behavior starts to disappear, so does the power of the conch and order. The disappearance of this is shown throughout the entire story until at the very end of the story all the boys, even Ralph, became what Golding wanted to show:

“Golding sees moral behavior, in many cases, as something that civilization forces upon the individual rather than a natural expression of human individuality. When left to their own devices, Golding implies, people naturally revert to cruelty, savagery, and barbarism” (SparkNotes Editors).

This shows the decision the boys in Lord of the Flies had to make either to live by rules or to live wild and violently. In the end they chose to live wild and violently.
The two main characters of Lord of the Flies are Ralph and Jack. Ralph is the protagonist and “the representative of civilization” (Golding 206). Jack is the antagonist and symbolizes savagery and violence. The conflict between Ralph and Jack begins at the very first meeting when the boys vote for a chief and Ralph is chosen over Jack. “I ought to be chief,” said Jack with a simple arrogance, “because I’m a chapter chorister and head boy. I can sing in C sharp” (Golding 22). This shows the beginning of Jack’s jealousy towards Ralph because he was used to being the leader. It also shows the jealousy of man and how it makes someone want their own power.
Ralph is a very big influence on the younger boys. He believes in taking care of the boys and finding ways for everyone to be rescued. Some ways he did this is by building the fire and huts. “For this reason, Ralph’s power and influence over the other boys are secure at the beginning of the novel” (SparkNotes Editors). To the boys, Ralph, Piggy, and Simon are a sign of security. However, gradually, throughout the story the security of Ralph is not enough for the boys when their violent side takes over. Throughout the whole story Ralph symbolizes order until he is the only who doesn’t join Jack’s group. Jack is the opposite of Ralph. Jack desires to have power over all the boys but it is taken away when Ralph is voted chief. The violent side of Jack begins when he starts hunting pigs and uses the idea of the “beast.” The idea of a beast causes the boys to feel fear. The more of a savage Jack becomes, the more he influences the boys to become savages. Some symbols that represent Jack are the “Lord of the Flies” that “becomes both a physical manifestation of the beast, a symbol of the power of evil, and a kind of Satan figure who evokes the beast within each human being” (SparkNotes Editors). This shows the evil that hid in Jack but is also in mankind. The beast is “the primal instinct of savagery that exists within all human beings” (SparkNotes Editors), the one thing that frightens all the boys and is the main reason that Jack gains power over the boys. In “The Scarlet Ibis” there is a resemblance between “brother” and “Jack” because they manipulate people to listen to them and do what they want them to do. The conflict between Ralph and Jack is the choice of gaining one’s own power or caring for the needs of others.
When they come to the island the boys have no thought of acting violent or wild. They don’t know really what to do without adult supervision so they create their own rules. Here it is hinted that the rules the boys have agreed to will not be followed or enforced for very long because of the situation the boys are in which is complete freedom from everything they’ve known. In “Liberty” the family wants freedom from the danger that they are in. However there is good freedom and bad freedom. The boys are in a place where freedom is all around them and there are no adults to tell them what is right or wrong. This kind of freedom is very dangerous because the longer they stay on the island without any rules, the more they forget what good behavior is and eventually become wild and violent. Through the influence of the beast and Jack all the boys slowly become enthralled by the ways of savagery. The influence of Jack causes the boys to find pleasure in killing, torturing and spilling the blood of animals. The boys become so enthralled that they chant, ” Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!” (Golding 152) They become so violent and wild that they even beat and kill some boys, pretending they are the pig. “It was dark. There was that – that bloody dance. There was lightning and thunder and rain. We was scared!” (Golding 156) shows the boys don’t think of what they did as wrong but as a game. Their savagery represents the evil that dwelt inside them of wanting to hurt someone or something. The group of boys in the beginning of the book is far from being the same group of boys at the end of the story. Ralph at the end of the story cries because he realizes that evil dwells not only in adults but also in children.
Throughout Lord of the Flies civilization represents good, while savagery represents evil. However, the book’s theme also shows the evil that man has inside if given the opportunity to show it. The boys in Lord of the Flies had to decide if they wanted to live by rules or live violently. They had rules that they followed but there was no one to enforce it on them. Civilization may have rules but that does not mean that people will always obey them. Lord of the Flies shows that a good amount of time away from civilization can have a drastic affect on a person and they might not remember how to act properly in society. The decline of the boys’ behavior throughout the story from being civilized and having good behavior to being wild and violent shows that evil dwells in every human. Man can chose to control that evil or fall under its control as shown in the fall of the boys in Lord of the Flies.

Christian Symbolism In Lord Of The Flies

In the novel the Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, strong parallels have been drawn between Simon and Jesus Christ. In the novel, Simon is described as a Christ-like figure. Although William Golding does not directly connect the Christian symbolism to The Lord of the Flies, we can clearly see that Simon is indeed the resemblance of Jesus Christ for he is a wise, mature and insightful character just as how Christ is known as, being sacrificed as a consequence of discovering the truth regarding the beast, and also, his conversation with the Lord of the Flies corresponds to Jesus Christ’s confrontation with the devil during Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness, as told in the Christian Gospels.

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In the Lord of the Flies, Simon portrays many characteristics similar to those Jesus Christ had while he was on earth. He is a wise, mature, and kind-hearted boy, just like how Jesus Christ is known by all people. These characteristics can be shown during the time when Simon sneaks off and goes into the jungle alone after he has finished helping Ralph in building the shelter. He “turned his back and walked into the forest with an air of purpose” (Golding 55). From this, we can see that Simon is indeed wise and mature in the sense that he does not want to be involved in the argument between Ralph and Jack. To him, it is merely something of no great concern. Similarly, Jesus withdrew himself from his disciples and went into the wilderness to pray alone, in order to seek the face of God (Holy). Besides, Simon finds and “picks fruit for the littluns from spots they cannot reach, then he passes the fruits to their hands” (Golding 56). Simon was not at all required to perform this service, yet he did. He did the best he could (Sparknotes). Likewise, Jesus cares for little children too. The Lord even once said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Holy). Hence, this has shown that Simon and Jesus Christ do have something in common in their personalities.
Apart from that, as written by William Golding, Simon is killed sacrificially by the other boys on the island as a consequence of having discovered the truth about the beast. Initially, Simon attempts to explain that the boys themselves, or something related to the human nature could be the beast that all of them are afraid of. He tells them that maybe there is a beast. However, none of boys actually believe him. Furthermore, Ralph even stands up in amazement in regards to Simon’s point of view about the beast (Golding 89). Nevertheless, Simon knows that the beast is harmless; therefore he must reveal the truth to them. This is due to the fact that he sees the need for the boys to understand the true identity of the beast. In the end, Simon eventually dies as a result of being made the scapegoat for the boys’ unshakeable fear. As a result of being mistaken as the beast, Simon is “leapt on, struck, bit, and tore” (Golding 153). Similarly, Jesus Christ is killed for spreading the gospel to all people, as there were some who refused to believe in him. This is the main reason why He was crucified 2000 years ago. The Jewish “mocked him, took off his robe, then they led him away to crucify him” (Holy). Although Jesus is not sinful, he was killed simply because people did not believe his words. During that time, no one believed that Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God. This is exactly like what happens to Simon in the Lord of the Flies, in which both of them are sacrificed because no one believed in them.
Furthermore, Simon’s conversation with the Lord of the Flies demonstrates some characteristics similar to Jesus Christ’s confrontation with the devil during His forty days in the wilderness, as told in the Christian Gospels. In the novel, the Lord of the Flies tells Simon that evil lies within every human and because of that, he is going to have some “fun”. It even tells him to “run off and play with the others” (Golding 143). Besides, Simon is once again told by the Lord of the Flies that all of them will be unable to escape him, the beast, for it is inside the boys themselves. This somehow foreshadows Simon’s death in the later part of the novel. This shows that the Lord of the Flies, which is also the physical manifestation of the beast, has now become the symbol of power and evil as well as a kind of Satan figure who induces the beast within each human being (Sparknotes). Therefore, through Simon’s conversation with the Lord of the Flies, the readers of this novel are then able to know the truth about the beast that has been haunting all the stranded boys on the island all the time. At the same time, 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ experienced the same thing as Simon does in the Lord of the Flies. Jesus encountered the devil during His forty days in the wilderness. During that time, He had to face Satan. Satan offered Him food, power, and wealth. However, all those were completely rejected by Jesus. He answered Satan by saying “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Holy). Hence, from what Simon and Jesus Christ have encountered, where both of them had to face this situation when they are alone, William Golding has clearly portrayed Simon as a Christ-like figure in the novel.
As a whole, the character Simon, in the Lord of the Flies is indeed portrayed as the resemblance of Jesus Christ for he is wise, mature, and insightful, having been sacrificed as a consequence of discovering the truth, and also, his conversation with the Lord of the Flies parallels the confrontation between Jesus and the devil during Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness, as told in the Christian Gospels. William Golding has shown some Christian ideas and themes in his story by developing some parallel ideas between Simon and the Lord
Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, readers of the novel ought to always remember that the biblical parallels between Simon and Christ are not exactly complete; hence, they should not necessarily be the primary basis to interpreting the story (Sparknotes).

Themes of Individuality in William Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies’

William Golding’s Lord of the Flies is a fictional novel in which the author describes the journey of a group of boys who attempt to govern themselves after being stranded on an island due to a plane crash. The book portrays the boys as they descend into savagery when left solitary on an uninhabited island far from the restraints of society. Through his book, Golding implies that the flaws of society come directly from the flaws of individuals (Epstein 3). This is demonstrated by the effect of group mentality on the boys. One instance of this mentality was during the second hunt in which Jack and his tribe kill the sow. None of the boys would have performed this act alone, but as a group, they proceeded to violently take the sow’s life in the midst of the “sweat […] noise […] blood and terror” (Golding 135). Simon’s brutal death due to the “tearing of teeth and claws” of the other boys was another event that solely occurred due to the entire groups’ participation in the murder (Golding 153). Throughout the novel, there are many instances where the group mentality pushes the boys to go further against their basic morals; much more than they would alone.

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In his article, “Why Boys Become Vicious,” author William Golding reflects on the idea that the cruelty within the children who have no guidance or support, flourishes in situations of chaos and fear. After World War I, Russia experienced “gangs of [orphaned] children without anywhere to live or anything to live on who roamed the country attacking and killing out of sheer cruelty” (“Why Boys Become Vicious” par. 11). Furthermore, Golding refers to the children as a gang to emphasize that these acts of inhumanity were a group effort. When all these children collectively experienced the loss of a loving figure, their lives were in chaos. The situation of these children is similar to Jack and his hunters killing the sow out of pure malice. Jack’s hunters chant as a group, showing their cohesion and how they prefer to kill together. Both of the groups were experiencing a state of social disorder in their lives. Just as the children were left to survive alone, Jack and his hunters underwent their big break away from Ralph resulting in them having to fend for themselves, but also leaving them with no restraint on their actions. From both these situations, it can be seen that chaos has an effect in the motives behind cruelty and that the lack of guidance contributes to the barbaric behavior. Golding also mentions that cruelty stems from fright. Being alone generates a fear that enables people to discover violence within them, however “when they are afraid together […that] violence […] can be bottomless” (“Why Boys Become Vicious” par. 15). Along with chaos, fear was also present among the boys on the island. Be it fear of the beast, or fear of never getting rescued, it played a huge role in the cruelty of the boys. The terror of the beast was what led to the violent death of the boys’ only hope, Simon. Likewise, the children in Russia living without adult protection were often frightened along with the various other common childish fears. This common weakness that is experienced due to fear dominates humanity, creates a hysterical environment, and prevents humans from making rational decisions.
Similarly, banding together into a group makes an individual less likely to follow normal restraints due to the diffusion of responsibility. Rick Hampson, the author of the article “Real ‘Beast’ in Deadly N.Y. Crush: Wild Crowd,” describes the crowd, which stampeded innocent people at a rap stars basketball game, as an inhumane beast that “laughed and joked amid the despair” (Hampson 4). Both the article and the Lord of the Flies referred to the groups as disrespectful and uncivil beasts, in which participants lost their individuality. The crowd brought out their inner darkness which lead to a loss of morality and dehumanized them. The beast is also used to symbolize the savagery that is present in every human being and which only comes out after the boundaries of civilization have been broken. Giving in to the innate barbarism as a group, enables the behavior to become a norm and makes it easier for others to lose the ability to remain civilized. Additionally, throughout the article and in the novel, who the blame falls on plays a huge role in the overall idea of group mentality. In the deadly stampede, “[almost] no one pointed at another culprit: [the] crowd that spawned [the] beast” (Hampson 1). Being a part of the so-called beast can make people feel excited, powerful, and invisible. This came into play the morning after Simon’s death in which both Ralph and Piggy convinced themselves that it was an accident even though they were there and didn’t try to stop the boys, all in hopes of becoming a part of the “demented, but partly secure society” (Golding 152). Humans tend to naturally follow others, regardless of the validity of the actions. They find comfort in the fact that once they are a part of the group they will be less liable for an action rather than when alone.
In his novel, Lord of the Flies, William Golding utilizes the boys on the island to showcase a microcosm of the real world. Through this microcosm, Golding is able to convey the message that humans are inherently evil and that they corrupt society. By analyzing different events in today’s world, the reader can understand the repercussions that a group mentality can have on society. After comparing the two, it is clear that both humans and society suffer from the effects of mob mentality in which people can be influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors on a largely emotional – rather than rational – basis.
Works Cited

Epstein, E.L. “Notes on Lord of the Flies.” Lord of the Flies. By William Golding. Library of Congress Catalogue, Putnam Publishing Group, 1954. Print.
Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. Library of Congress Catalogue, Putnam Publishing Group, 1954. Print.
Golding, William. “‘Why Boys Become Vicious’ .” 28 Feb. 1993.
Hampson, Rick. “Real ‘Beast’ in Deadly N.Y. Crush: Wild Crowd.” 5 Jan. 1992.


The Lord of The Flies

Lord of the Flies by William Golding is one of the most popular and endearing books of the twentieth century.  In part a morality tale, in part an analysis of the human psyche, it is also a supremely interesting and exciting adventure story.  All of these combined elements make the book a true classic and a perennial audience favourite.  The book also demonstrates its significance to today’s audiences via the many references made of it in popular culture.  Artists as divergent as U2, who named a song after one of the book’s chapters, through to the creators of cult TV drama ‘Lost’ pay testament to the value and resonance of William Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies’.
Within its pages we see drama, tension, horror, cruelty and the extraordinary complexities that can occur when people are forced into unique situations.  This encourages the audience to philosophically engage with the book and look more deeply into it to find answers to the questions it poses “That work was Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. The book was the first novel that caused me to reflect for longer than I read” (Dalrymple, T, 2005)

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A plane crash strands a group of British schoolboys on an unknown island. In a society now shorn of traditional authority figures, it is up to the abandoned boys to establish some kind of working system to guide them through the dangers, inevitably inherent, in their new, unchartered existence.  The difficulties they encounter lead to violence and separatism and death.  At the beginning of the novel we are introduced to the key characters Ralph, Piggy and Jack.   Ralph and Jack are almost immediately engaged in a struggle for power thus emphasising one of Lord of the Flies’ key features, which is its ability to effectively mirror adult situations.  In this case it can be seen as indicative of a wider human inclination to become ‘top-dog’.
Lord of the Flies is a novel that is filled with tension and drama. Defeated by Ralph in the election battle, Jack instead turns his attention to other, more dynamically fierce pursuits and becomes in charge of an almost-crazed hunting division of boys, thus finding a way to both proclaim his importance and issue a challenge to the incumbent as he satisfies his thirst for power in gradually more ominous and violent ways.
The mandate for the group is created and the boys immediately decide to get on with the business of having fun and keeping the signal fire burning.  Therefore, this child-like perspective of leadership values and what is important in society is a fascination component of Golding’s work and accounts for much of its popularity and subsequent critical analysis due to its deft mirroring of many of today’s mores and traditions.

A seemingly simple tale of schoolboys marooned on an island, Lord of the Flies has proven to be one of the most enigmatic and provocative pieces of literature ever publishedOlsen, K (2000).

The other early principal character Piggy is almost immediately discounted by the boys due to his demeanour and appearance.  This further emphasises the plot’s reflection of ‘real-life’ patterns of behaviour and attitude where the ethos is often seen to be ‘survival of the fittest’ as Piggy, less physically impressive and worldly-wise than the power brokers now operating on the island,  is rejected “He is lacking in aggression, unwilling to adventure, cries easily, is not interested in competing ….. As a result of his shortcomings, he is more than at the bottom of the hierarchy of the boys stranded on the island” (Berseka, T, 2003).  Once more, this facet of Golding’s work will engage with those who perceive contemporary society has an increasing penchant for populism and the triumph of aggression over civility.
Already made to feel anxious by the inherent aggression in Jack’s leadership style and his bloodthirsty  proclivity for hunting pigs, the  younger members of the fledgling society are also made to feel insecure by the rumours of a ‘beast’ stalking the island.  This feral clamour for blood ultimately culminates in Piggy’s demise. Violence is shown to be a significant strategy in gaining power and influence, again echoing many such instances in the ‘real’ adult world.

Although based on the dynamics of a group of schoolboys, the novel confronts profound questions of innocence, evil and the fall of man, casting doubt on the possibility of any lasting social progressCarter, R & MacRae, J, 2001

This bloodlust reaches its nadir when one of the few left serving under Jack’s more traditional leadership, Simon, is savagely murdered by Ralph’s off-shoot ‘tribe’ in an almost ritualistic fervour.  This group are now distinctly separate and wilder than the others and are intoxicated by their own power.  As Ralph himself is about to become the third victim, the boys’ fire is spotted by a patrolling British Navy ship which effects a rescue.
The somewhat ambivalent ending of Lord of the Flies further engages the audience by leaving them with unanswered questions and moral dilemmas. The leadership contest, the struggle for survival, the corrupting rush of power, the use of violence as a means to an end and the descent of the human species into an almost animalistic state raises questions relating to the very basic foundations of the human condition.  What do their actions tell us about notions of respect for one another?  How delicate is the balance between civilisation and savagery?  How damaging is their loss of innocence?  All of these questions serve to engage the reader in Golding’s classic text.

Berseka, T, T. (2003), “The Changing Boys’ World in the 20th Century: Reality and “Fiction””, The Journal of Men’s Studies, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 157
Carter, R. & Macrae, J.(2001), The Routledge History of Literature in English: Britain and Ireland, Routledge, London
Dalrymple, T. (2005), “Desert-Island Reading”, New Criterion, vol. 23, no. 6, pp. 1.
Olsen, K. (2000), Understanding Lord of the Flies: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents, Greenwood Press, Westport, CT.


The Lord Of The Flies: Chapter 8

Lord Of The Flies Chapter 8
Golding’s Lord Of The Flies is based on an island after the second world war. Through-out the novel, Golding treats the island as a microcosm of the war. Within this is microcosm, the island commences as a utopia but it is not until chapter 8 when it gradually evolves into a dystopia as the ultimate battle for jealousy and power breaks out.

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The modification and degradation in certain characters’ behaviour from their normal life of civilization makes chapter 8 key to Golding’s Lord Of The Flies’ . It is the main chapter in which democracy is demolished, savagery kicks in and the definitive chapter in which Simon has the ultimate encounter with the Lord Of The Flies. I will explore Golding’s use of symbolism, plot, imagery, language, Christian morals, setting, themes and story structure as well as the novel’s overall historical context to establish the fact that chapter 8 is the most significant chapter to the novel as a whole.
This is the vital episode in which Ralph experiences difficulties dealing with ‘the beast.’ He acknowledges its existence and in doing so spreads fear amongst the other boys. This is illustrated when Ralph portrays the beast as having ‘teeth’ and ‘big black eyes.’ Ralph instantly decides that fighting the beast is not an option; leaving the boys with no alternative than to hide from the beast and live under its shadow. Ralph’s fear about the beast is conveyed in his own words for the preliminary time in chapter 8, expressing the chapter’s great magnitude and relevance. As evidenced in the above quotations, it is in chapter 8 that the beast is embellished and made to seem scarier than reality, again showing the chapter’s eloquence.
This powerful section centres on Ralph’s pessimism which contributes to his poor management of the beast. He does not appreciate that the ‘littluns’ take him seriously and visualise the news as a sign for panic. Ralph explains, ‘I don’t think we’d ever fight a thing that size, honestly, you know. We’d talk, but we wouldn’t fight a tiger. We’d hide. Even Jack ‘ud’ hide.’ Ralph’s apathy is conveyed because he makes himself believe that his hopes are slim. From Ralph’s language, the reader and other characters become under the impression that the beast is huge and can not be fought. Here, the key notion which makes chapter 8 substantial is that Ralph injects pain and fear into the unstable community instead of calming them.
Ralph’s priority is evacuating the island rather than confronting the beast. This is illustrated when Ralph says ‘As long as there’s light we’re brave enough. But then? And now that thing squats by the fire as though it didn’t want us to be rescued… So we can’t have a signal fire… We’re beaten.’ The reader comprehends the boys’ inability of coping with darkness because of their strong fear of the beast. Little do the boys know, that the beast is living inside them like a parasite which can not live on its own but is in need of a host to live in. This is momentous to chapter 8 because we learn that Ralph’s desire is not to stay on the island or integrate himself into the island in order to avoid mingling with the beast.
Throughout chapter 8, the ‘conch’ acts as a symbol of authority and order. At the beginning of the chapter, ‘the conch glimmered among the trees.’ This is pivotal to chapter 8 because the glimmering of the conch confirms its importance and the way it stands out in nature, symbolises how right actions stand out from wrong actions. From the beginning of the book, the conch takes the place of civilization and democracy which are clearly two social aspects which the island lacks after the destruction of the conch. It is because of the conch’s destruction or in other words the destruction of authority, that degradation and an uncivilized atmosphere are the shocking result.
Jack blows the conch and calls a meeting at the start of chapter 8. This makes the chapter especially significant because normally, Jack has a certain disregard for the rules but however it is in this chapter that he uses the conch and applies the rules for his own benefit. Jack makes negative comments in the meeting about Ralph like, ‘Ralph said my hunters are no good’, ‘He’s like piggy…he isn’t a proper chief…he’s a coward himself…’ ‘He’s not a hunter. He’d never have got us meat… He just gives orders and expects people to obey for nothing’, He competes with Ralph for leadership, which is unmistakably a direct challenge and describes Ralph as ‘not a prefect ‘ which is the last reference to the boys’ previous school life. This is especially portrayed in chapter 8 because Jack attempts undermining Ralph in order to attract the littluns to his own life style. He also capitalises on the appearance of the beast, although he himself is scared of its shadowy presence too. However, he realises that the group’s faith in Ralph is ever decreasing because of the fear and instability of the beast on the island.
Jack reacts very violently to the beast, but does not aim his anger at the beast; instead he aims it at Ralph’s leadership and at hunting. He has bloodlust and loves to hunt and kill, the food is merely a by-product of the adrenaline that it gives him to hunt, chase and kill another animal. He has passed his passion onto his hunters. This is predominantly shown in the chapter when Golding mentions that, ‘The hunters followed, wedded to her in lust, excited by the long chase and the dropped blood…’ This is particularly pivotal to chapter 8 because he uses the possibility of pacifying the beast as a way of seducing the boys to what he wants them to do. He uses the promise of exciting hunting, brilliant feasts and most of all, the promise that the beast will not bother them and the promise that the beast will cease to be a constant point of fear for the boys.
Simon has a diverse reaction to ‘the beast’ compared to the other boys in the novel. This is especially expressed in chapter 8 because it is when Simon instinctively knows that the beast is something that has manifested itself in the heads, hearts and minds of the boys, giving them a focus for their fear. He endeavours to disprove the beast’s existence by climbing the mountain and discovering what it was that Ralph and Jack saw; ‘I thought there might be something to do, something we-‘ again the pressure of the assembly took his voice away… ‘I think we ought to climb the mountain… What else is there to do?’ Simon climbs the mountain and his theory is proven, when he locates a dead parachutist and encounters the pig’s head. This attests that Simon’s predictions about the existence of a physical beast were right. This is crucial to chapter 8 because Simon’s Christ-like figure is revealed.
The imperative confrontation between Simon and the ‘Lord of the Flies’ takes place in chapter 8 showing the chapters even greater magnitude. When Simon confronts the ‘Lord of the Flies’, it is just a pig’s head on a stick, which Jack had stuck into the ground in Simon’s special retreat. However, when Simon is speaking to it he doesn’t see it as a pig’s head; he interprets it as evil. When the ‘Lord of the Flies’ is talking to Simon, the dialogue is like a schoolmaster is telling him off. ‘You are a silly little boy… just a silly ignorant little boy. ‘The Lord Of The Flies’ intentionally talks in this manner to try overpowering Simon’s thoughts and mind and acts as if he knows better.
The pig’s head then progresses by instructing Simon to go and socialise with the other boys, or they will think he is crazy. ‘You’d better run off and play with the others’. ‘You don’t want Ralph to think you’re batty, do you?’ Overall, in this vital episode, ‘The Lord of the Flies’ starts forcing Simon into thinking that no one on the island likes him. This is principally illustrated in chapter 8 because the ‘Lord of the Flies’ tries to affect Simon’s thoughts by making him socialise with the evil boys. The beast attempts taking control of Simon by saying, ‘There isn’t anyone to help you. Only me. And I’m the Beast’. Simon’s reaction to this is to shout insults at the pig’s head. ‘Pig’s head on a stick!’ This confirms that Simon understands that this is all it is. The Lord Of The Flies attempts gaining Simon’s obedience. This is ironic because it is similar to what happens to Jesus, making chapter 8 religiously momentous as well. Subsequently, the ‘Lord of the Flies’ informs Simon that ‘he can’t kill it.’ The beast sarcastically says, ‘Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!’ This section is even more relevant because the ‘Lord Of The Flies’ tries to embed it’s presence inside Simon’s head by declaring its state of immortality.
The island itself, particularly chapter 8, functions as a kind of Garden of Eden that is gradually corrupted by the introduction of evil. The Lord of the Flies may be seen as a symbol for the devil, since it works to promote evil among mankind. An example of this is when the ‘Lord of the Flies’ tells Simon to, ‘Get back to the others.‘ This promotes evil because the other boys’ evil will affect Simon.
Chapter 8 is very considerable because it is when Simon is faced with the ethical reality of the novel and is killed sacrificially as a consequence of having discovered the truth. In chapter 8, Golding conveys that Simon’s life has strong parallels with that of Jesus which is a very pivotal part of the chapter. His conversation with the Lord of the Flies mirrors the confrontation between Christ and the devil in Christian theology. There are unfortunate consequences to Simon’s death in that the island is thrown into a deeper network of misery and unhappiness. The beast says to Simon, ‘Aren’t you afraid of me?’ and ‘You don’t want Ralph to think you’re batty do you?’ Simon’s wisdom is portrayed through the concept that he does not believe and act by the beast’s words, indicating the importance and great significance of chapter 8 to the novel.
To conclude, Chapter 8 is key to Golding’s Lord Of The Flies because it is where the instability of Jack, Piggy and Ralph an the island is conveyed. This has strong comparisons with people’s physical and emotional feelings during World War 2. Additionally, being under immense pressure of the gradual immersion of a dystopia, some of the boys like Ralph loose control but others like Jack capitalise on the fear of the littluns. This is echoed in the war when Hitler capitalises on the fear of the other countries and the public. Golding also conveys the notion of fear in chapter 8 making the chapter significant. The chapter is also prophetic because of Simon’s death. Finally, Golding explains the divisions within the group of children as a symbol of destruction of order and authority. This originates from the biblical reference of ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to destruction.’ (Mathew 12.25) The above points tie together to prove the chapter’s eloquence to the novel as a whole.