In William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, a group of English boys is trapped on an island that seems like paradise. However, when fear spreads through the paradise it takes charge of the boys’ lives and their innate fear destroys. Ralph’s fear destroys his hope of ever being rescued. Jack obliterates what civilization is left on the island when he splits the tribe due to his own fear, but this could also be shown through Piggy’s glasses. Finally, the boys’ fear of someone more powerful than them drives them to kill Simon and Piggy. Golding develops this theme throughout the novel.
On the surface, the novel Lord of the Flies tells a story about a group of English boys stuck on an island after a plane crash. When the boys first realize that the are on a deserted island without any adults, they are ecstatic and treat life as a game. They have feasts, build a large fire, and make rules to govern the island by. To them, it is not survival: it is a game.
In the novel, Golding makes it clear to the reader that Ralph’s innate fear overpowers his hope to be rescued. Throughout the entire novel, Ralph is the one person who insists on having the fire lit so that there is a chance of the boys’ rescue. When the fire goes out because Jack and his tribe won’t help, Ralph’s hope flickers and diminishes as well. To show the reader that Ralph is giving up hope, Golding writes a thought-provoking conversation between Piggy and Ralph where Ralph admits to Piggy that he is scared. “Not of the beast…but nobody understands about the fire. If someone threw you a rope when you were drowning. If a doctor said take this because if you don’t take it you’ll die-you would, wouldn’t you? Can’t they understand? Without the smoke signal we’ll die here?” (139). Ralph is shown to be afraid of death through this dialogue, and he is afraid that nobody else wants to be rescued. He also says, “And they don’t care. What’s more, I don’t sometimes. Supposing I got like the others-not caring. What ‘ud become of us ?”(139). Ralph’s innate fear is gripping his mind and he is afraid of the island turning from a civilized society into savagery. Ralph’s hope to be rescued diminishes with the smoke signal, and he doesn’t know what to do for the people that won’t listen to his warnings.
Civilization is destroyed when Piggy’s specs are stolen, and when Jack splits away from Ralph and begins to lead a new tribe. It is Jack’s fear that makes him do this. He is afraid of Ralph being more powerful than him, and he doesn’t like to be reprimanded by the younger boy. To feel more powerful than Ralph, Jack defies him and leaves during a meeting, taking his new tribe with him. Golding also demonstrates the crumbling of civilization through symbols like Piggy’s glasses, the conch and the war paint. The glasses represent clear sightedness on the island. Half of the glasses broke when Jack steals them momentarily from Piggy after he and his hunters let the fire go out for the first time (71). The other half of the specs are not broken, but stolen permanently by Jack and his tribe after they break away from Ralph and need something to build a fire with (168). The conch represents order, but that order is demolished with the conch. In the beginning of the boys’ stay on the island, a boy is not allowed to talk during the meetings without the conch. However, meetings progress to shouting out of turn, and disregard for the authority of the conch. The symbol of war paint near the end of the novel demonstrates the actual fear that the boys still have for authority. Jack’s tribe uses the paint to hide themselves from the world’s punishments, and as an excuse to act without thinking. They feel as though they do not have to take responsibility for their actions. Golding shows civilization on the island being demolished through symbols and the splitting of the tribes.
Innate fear finally leads to Jack’s tribe killing Piggy and Simon. Golding shows man’s primitive nature when the boys are dancing around fire after the pig roast. When Simon crawls into the circle, the tribe thinks he is the beast that they have been wanting to kill. The storm combined with their fear of the beast makes them kill it, not knowing that it was Simon (153). Roger also kills Piggy near the end of the story. The storm that rages only heightens his fear and hate of Piggy’s knowledge and intellect. “Roger, with a sense of delirious abandonment, leaned all his weight on the lever” (180). After Jack’s tribe realizes that Piggy is dead, they dismiss it as being what would happen to you if you didn’t follow Jack. Golding heightens the boys’ fear throughout the novel by adding tension such as storms that drive men wild.
William Golding wrote a story about English boys trapped on an island, but the real theme is innate fear destroys. Golding develops this theme through Ralph’s fear of savagery, Jack’s fear of being less powerful than someone, and Roger’s fear of intellect and rules. The island paradise is destroyed.
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