Essay: Lord of The Flies Essay Questions
Tags: Civilization, William Golding
Essay Question Two
Lord of the Flies opens with the introduction of a small group of English boys that are marooned on an island. The plane was evacuating them from atomic war-ridden England. This is a suiting time for this novel to be written- it shows how savage even little boys can be, and that adults are no different, with their wars and cruelties. A small society is set up, but Jack starts his own rule, contrary to Ralph’s leadership. The boys turn on each other, eventually killing Simon in the middle of a hunting dance, and smashing a boulder on Piggy. The choice of “young English lads” is perfect- if, perhaps, “foreign ruffians” were chosen, a stereotypical person might expect cruel and savage behavior. On the contrary, these boys were the “cream of the crop”, and all it took was a little trouble on an island to turn them into killing machines. The time is one that the world is turning on each other, and the boys follow suit and turn on each other. Their society is an ironic model of the real world around them. Many countries today are turning on each other, with violent wars and cruelties. Lord of the Flies shows one that mankind must choose to stop cruelty or face destruction. Many people do not believe in violence or cruelty, unless they are in power. When humans strive for power, they get so power hungry that the power backfires. When one is in total control power, one often turns into a more savage person than that same person that is under a rule or with the absence of a ruler does. Humans were not meant to be ruled or to rule. To coexist is mankind’s purpose, yet with no rule, there is often an absence of order, but with a human rule, there is always conflict in society. Society today has order, but violence is also prevalent.
Near the end of the novel, many of the boys start a fire to smoke out Ralph, and that same fire gets bigger and bigger and eventually is what a ship sees and saves Ralph’s life and rescues the boys. What at first was made to bring the death of Ralph later saved him. In human society, and even in the animal kingdom, violent acts may turn into a salvation. Many animals must kill one another to eat. During wars, the United States is brought together and the economy booms. At what first appears to be a bad factor for the United States, later becomes a good thing, in different ways. It is ironic that a bad deed can turn into a good deed. This kind of ironic situation can also be applied to reverse psychology. If one tells another he or she if bad, often he or she will respond saying that he or she is not bad. A hurtful insult may turn up some self-esteem. It is similar to throwing old vegetables at a bad comic- the bad comic is probably homeless and will take the food and eat it. Have lemons? Make lemonade.
The final scene is possibly the most powerful and terrifying of all the scenes in the book. It features a dignified naval officer in all the trappings of his station, much like the paint and weaponry of the boys. This man rescues Ralph from almost certain death. However, in doing so, he brings the boys into another society which, in principle, is exactly like the one they just lived. This man is a boy, a fly, another person warring the battle for power between the evil in his mind and the rationality of it, another person swarming to the feast. He is another Jack, warring against people who do not agree with his ideals, his religions in order to strengthen his own standards.
Golding’s ingenious use of a truly entertaining story to convey the scary reality of the human spirit is accomplished through the use of symbolism. The boys symbolize the various aspects of the mind, and their ensuing actions symbolize the respective struggles of the mind. Their entire struggle to survive on the island is a representation of civilization’s struggle to survive. This was Golding’s purpose and he accomplishes it successfully.
Essay Question Three
No government, no rules, no problems? Of course, there are problems. From the calling of the first meeting and all along up to the final hunt for Ralph, the sense of order and respect is gradually declining among the boys. In the beginning, everybody listens to what everybody has to say, and they try to build a civilized society on the island. The boys had obviously gotten a pretty strict upbringing both at home and at school. All of them have a definite view of what is right and what is wrong. At first, they are able to use this sense, and keep their traditional standards on the island. They elect a leader democratically, and by popular vote, they start deciding what has to be done. They have rules for the meetings and they make laws for what is allowed and what is not. The problem comes when the boys start realizing that there is no one there to control them. There are no adults there to make them toil and sweat if they do not want to. The boys realize that swimming and eating fruit all day is more fun, than laying the foundation for a fair and safe society where everybody works for the benefit of the whole group. The main symbol that represents the law and order on the island is the conch shell. It is with this Ralph calls all the meetings and all of the other boys seem to respect this. Anyone who holds it has the right to be heard. Without this, nobody would probably ever have listened to any of Piggies intelligent suggestions. There would have been no fire, no shelters and no assigned place for lavatory use. As the respect for the conch disappears, so does the law and order on the island. This hits rock bottom as Piggy is killed and the conch is crushed with him. There is no longer any respect for Old World rules left on the island. With Piggies death, social anarchy was at its fullest.
Actually, there really is no anarchy. There is always a leader and there are always rules. Was there not an establishment? Of course there was. Jack was the leader of the savages, even though they basically did what they wanted to, he had his establishment and people looked toward Jack as their leader. He overthrew power with violence as his tool; he spoke of doing things his way and with no real authority. However, nothing changed for all the death that his ideas created, it’s just the same fascistic games, but his rules weren’t clearly stated. Nothing was really different, because all forms of government is basically the same. Jack could have called it anarchy but slavery was the game. Jack had everyone under his control, and if someone didn’t want his new restrictions or disagreed with him and had their own convictions. He would run them through. That’s what he did with Piggy, the symbol of authority, and that is what he was going to do with Ralph.
Essay Question Seven
Simon is the most powerful character in the book. Of all the boys, only he can see beyond the surface of things. His intransigence in climbing the mountain, his insistence on understanding, is a metaphor for what the book itself does. The book dares to name the beast, the evil in man’s heart, as the beast. He is the one who pipes up during a meeting, that maybe the beast is real, but that it is only our own creation, much like the monster typically lurking underneath children’s beds. Simon is the one who confronts the monster fearlessly and finds out the truth in the dramatic scene with the pig’s head. Simon is the embodiment of man’s intuition and feeling. When Simon confronts the beast, he realizes that it is inside of him, that it can not be fought with spears and rocks. It cannot be satiated with sacrifice and dance. It is a part of everyone, a part of human nature. Simon tries to tell his companions of his tremendous discovery, but his words are drowned out by the praising of the beast and he is slaughtered in the ensuing frenzy. With Simon’s death, truth is lost. The identity of the beast is lost.
The Beast takes many forms in the boys’ imaginations; once, they saw a strange shape moving at the top of a mountain, and they were afraid that it was the Beast. No one dared to go near it save Simon, who went alone to the mountaintop during one of his sojourns; he discovered that the Beast was only a dead parachuter whose gear shifted in the wind. Ironically, the dead man was a soldier, a symbol of the savagery that was the true Beast. However, Simon’s compassion showed again as he braved the stench to cut the parachute from the corpse; he laid the Beast to rest.
Essay Question Twelve
The most obvious of the themes is man’s need for civilization. Contrary to the belief that man is innocent and society evil, the story shows that laws and rules, policemen and schools are necessary to keep the darker side of human nature in line. When these institutions and concepts slip away or are ignored, human beings revert to a more primitive part of their nature. Which is revealed in the novel, when authority starts to slip Jack breaks away from Ralph and starts his own savage cult.
Another theme of William Golding’s novel is the fact that evil is innate in all people. That it is not something that exists around us, but rather something that exists in us and it is this evil inside man that dictates how he grows as a civilization. All of the children in the book represent the flies that swarm around the pig’s head, which is its self, the lord, the need for evil. The children swarm around the lord, they follow Jack in droves in order to feast on the pleasure of their own gluttonous actions.
Finally, the existence of civilization allows man to remain innocent or ignorant about his true nature. Although man needs civilization, it is important that he also be aware of his more primitive instincts. Only in this way can he reach true maturity. Golding implies that the loss of innocence has little to do with age but is related to a person’s understanding of human nature. It can happen at any age or not at all. Painful though it may be, this loss of innocence by coming to terms with reality is necessary if humanity is to survive. Jack is a good example, he would rather hunt and get more in touch with of his primitive side rather having a modern civilization, which Ralph tries to exceed.