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In the novel “Lord of the Flies” we are given an example of what happens when a group of individuals that are proper, well behaved and orderly, are put into an environment where rules and regulations or the ability to enforce them are absent. Although the boys start out with the best of intensions to organize themselves to get off the island, they soon veer off course on to a path of self-survival, disregard for others and finally total savagery. The reasons for this breakdown are varied.
Fear, individualism and the lack of impartial rules and their enforcement are some of the main contributing factors to the social breakdown on the island. Early in the novel one of the littl’uns sees an animal and describes it as a beast. This instills fear in everyone. The fear escalates and the boys find themselves neglecting important duties that would help them get rescued. This fear also leads to a further disintegration of the group as they argue over how to deal with this perceived threat, the beast.
“In a moment the platform was full of arguing, gesticulating shadows. To Ralph, seated, this seemed the breaking up on sanity.
Fear, beast, no general agreement that the fire was all important: and when one tried to get the thing straight the argument sheered off, bringing up fresh, unpleasant matter.”(Golding 95). Beyond the fear of this wild perceived beast, the fear grows, and develops into a fear of each other. “Maybe” he said hesitantly, “maybe there is a beast”.
“What I mean is…maybe it’s only us.”(Golding 96) The growing sense of individualism over community is another factor contributing to the breakdown on the island. Rather then acting for the good of the group, certain individuals such as Jack begin to act for their own pleasure. The island offers a lot of berries and different fruits. But Jack insists on hunting for fun and to fulfill his bloodlust. He did so at the expense of other duties such as maintaining the fire, and building shelters. Where as Ralph is more concerned with keeping everyone safe and eventually getting rescued. Jack only cares about fulfilling his own desires.
“The best thing we can do is get ourselves rescued” Jack had to think for a moment before he could remember what rescue was. “Rescue? Yes, of course! All the same, I’d like to catch a pig first.”(Golding 54). The same mentality was also adopted by Jacks followers. To them it was more fun to hunt for wild pig then to build shelter or maintain the SOS fire. Another main factor is the lack of rules. This author William Golding chose English school kids because they come from a very civilized society. Here on the island where there is the absence of law and the enforcement of any laws, certain characters begin to abuse the situation and act less civilized.
Jacks illogical need to hunt the pig is an example of this, as is the wild dance that jack and his followers performed to celebrate the killing of the pig. This shows how civility is fading and being replaced by savagery. As I stated before, fear, individualism and the absence of law and order are the primary reason for the social meltdown that takes place on the island. Without a governing body whose main concern is to provide safety for the group as a whole, the possibility of individuals acting out their own selfish desires becomes likelihood.
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