William Golding’s Lord of the Flies follows the tale of a group of boys stranded on an isolated desert island, after their plane crashed. It takes place during an unspecified nuclear war; which was a major threat post WWII. Throughout the book Golding explores how a difficult situation can transform middle class English boys into having a much more savage nature, as well as splitting the ‘good’, from the ‘bad’. By the end of chapter 1, Ralph and Piggy have already formed some sort of order, and by the time Jack and his choir are introduced, Ralph is already being looked up to by the other boys; especially the younger ones, or “littluns”.
Jack appears, and instantly attempts to take over Ralph’s role and enforce his power by ordering his choir about as though he should be chief. The choir at first appears orderly and immaculately dressed, soon after this they are addressed as ‘hunters’, and due to the heat strip down their uniform, which causes them to look much less civilised. This also happens with the other boys in their school uniforms. The transformation of the choir marks a significant loss of order from the boys former lives. This could also symbolise the first step in a slow change towards savagery on the island and influence the behaviour of others.
Soon after the arrival on the island a clear hierarchy is visible with leaders such as Ralph and Jack on top closely followed by Simon and the other “bigguns” with “littluns” and Piggy being at the bottom; having to accept insults and jeers from the other children, especially Jack, who seems to house a special hatred for piggy from chapter one. Near the beginning of the book Ralph and Piggy find a Conch horn near the platform where they have their meetings. The “conch” as it is then refered to, is a major aspect in the rest of the book as it brings all the kids together, (“we can use it to call the others! ).
The conch could also be seen as a symbol of power and a link back to authority and their families; it is very unlikely that the other kids would look up to ralph without the conch, “and most obscurely, yet most powerfully, there was the conch. ” Shortly after finding the conch horn and prenouncing Ralph as chief, Jack, Simon and Ralph, decide to go on an expedition up the mountain, which will play a major part later in the book, as it is where they have several meetings, maintain the fire and cook. In chapter 2, the idea of ‘the beastie’ is introduced, by an unknown ‘littlun’.
Not only does this idea scare him, but also all of the other smaller kids, and to a point , the ‘biguns’ as well. This symbolises, not only to us, but the kids as well, that the island might not be all good, and they might not only be having fun as they thought they would. Other subtle words and phrases used, such as “harsh cry” may also be a sign of events to come. The fact that the unknown boy who died in the forest fire would have been a massive shock to all of them. Not only is it the shock of someone actually dieing, but it is also the antipode of what they are used to, being safe at home.
It might also slam the realization that they are in fact stranded. In the beginning of chapter 3, Jack’s “obsession” with hunting is clearly apparent, right from the start. It describes him like an animal, “Jack was bent double… His nose only a few inches from the humid earth… bolting and nearly mad” However, like in the first chapter with the pig, he is still unable to kill. This is probably on of the most frustrating aspects for Jack, whereas Ralph and Simon think from an entirely different angle, with the fact that they should build shelters and find fresh water, rather than eat meat.
In chapter 4, Jack manages to don a mask which allows him to behave in a much more animalistic way, finally allowing him to kill; however it is also a massive step towards total savagery. Towards this point in the book, all of the kids are starting to behave in a much more savage manner. Jack’s change in behaviour comes from the first killing of the pig which engulfs the entire group and encourages them into savage behaviour. By painting their faces, they are able to kill and perform awful acts which they would have never considered doing at home due to feeling like different people.
With the masks, and the change of personality that it brings, they also behave much more aggressively, “Kill the Pig! Bash her in! Slit her throat! ” Even to the reader, this seems totally crazy and disrespecting of life. Jack especially changes his behaviour out of all of them. After the first kill, it’s obvious that all of his frustration is let go and the taboo of killing is lifted; he also acts a lot more aggressively, even without the addition of the mask.
As in the beginning of the book, when they were planning to build shelters and houses, they now plan to kill a pig every day, even they were lucky to find one, and it took seven of them to catch it. Jack’s evolving hatred towards Piggy is probably due to the fact that Jack is such a different character to Piggy so he might not be used to Piggy’s personality and this could unsettle him. Jack could also possibly be jealous of Piggy’s intellect. They also have very different methods of problem solving and survival. Jack is more brute force whereas Piggy is more strategic.
Jack is also very used to being in charge as it was what he was taught in the choir. As in chapter 1, when he thought that he should be chief and Piggy saw through Jack and saw the possible evil which lurked within. Overall, Jack’s statement may have had some credential towards the beginning of the book, but towards the later chapters, both reader and character see that it is becoming increasingly difficult to retain order and a basic civilization due to the way that all of the kids behave. This reinforces Golding’s idea that there is a savage element in all of us.
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Topic: Lord of the Flies
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