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Lessons in Lord of the Flies

Donetta is a freelance writer. She's had her poems published in Ink & Voices, The Mystic Blue Review, The Reverie, and Spillwords.

Faber &, Faber 1954. This cover was done by Anthony Gross, a British painter who died in 1984.

Faber &, Faber 1954. This cover was done by Anthony Gross, a British painter who died in 1984.

The Island With No Adults

Lord of the Flies was written by William Golding in 1954. It's a tale of British boys who find themselves stranded on an island with no adults to supervise. Some are choirboys while others are coined the "litluns" because they're 6 and under. The rest are coined "biguns"

At the start we meet Ralph and Piggy. Ralph seems to be of a joyful nature although after listening to Piggy whine about everything, he showed he could be cruel. They discover a conch which brings the rest of the boys out of hiding when blown. While at first having no adults to supervise sounds fun, the boys know to survive they need to have rules.

The group elects Ralph to be the leader with Piggy helping to advise him because Piggy is considered intelligent. The others are divided into groups with duties to perform in order to live until they're rescued. In this way, they are trying to structure a community that they're accustomed to when around adults.

Jack envies Ralph being the leader because he was the leader of the choirboys. However, Jack teaches himself and his group to become hunters. The problem arises when Jack leads a hunt instead of making sure the fire Ralph built didn't go out. Ralph had told all the boys that the fire was necessary in order to send out smoke signals that could be seen from the ocean.


The Struggle for Leadership

The remainder of the book sets up the scene for Jack and Ralph fighting for leadership. Ralph sees a ship pass by while the fire is out because the group that follows Jack went to hunt and the group in charge of building homes along with other responsibilities are playing or napping.

This infuriates Ralph. Also, a lot of the boys are terrified of a mythical beast on the island. When a deceased admiral lands on the mountain top, the only thing the boys can see is a parachute blowing back and forth. Their fear drives them closer to Jack when he dresses in just torn pants and begins painting his face.

While Ralph's leadership was based on ideas that brought unity and peace to the boys, Jack leads by violence. The group of boys navigate to Jack and Ralph loses all power. Simon climbs away from the group where he finds that the "beast" is just a person held to the rocks by a parachute. He is overcome with visions that leave him weak.

As Simon races to tell the other boys that the beast doesn't live on the island but perhaps lives in the boys hearts, he stumbles into their dancing with their chanting. When they mistake Simon for the beast, they kill him.

Civilization and Savagery

lessons-in-lord-of-the-flies

Finale of Lord of the Flies

After Simon is killed, Ralph and Piggy try to stay to themselves until a group of boys following the instructions of Jack steal Piggy's glasses. The conch has no more mythical powers but Jack knows that he needs Piggy's glasses in order to build a fire.

When Ralph and Piggy go to demand the glasses back, Piggy is killed. Ralph realizes that his kindness in being a leader matters little to Jack's band of savages. Ralph has to rely on instinct as he's hunted all over the island by the other boys although he poses no real threat to them.

When the novel began, Ralph couldn't understand how the others were turning to bloodlust and acting like barbarians. As the story progresses, Ralph, like Simon, comes to understand that savagery exists within all the boys. He felt it inside himself. When he stops running and throws down the stake with the Lord of the Flies on it, he sees a naval officer. After all his dreaming of being rescued, he cries when he sees the officer because of the lessons he's had to learn while on the island.

Questions for my Readers

© 2021 Donetta Sifford

Comments

Lady Dazy from UK on October 07, 2021:

I can remember reading this at school.

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