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Lord of the Flies by William Golding shows how greed and power tussle can lead to the disintegration of a hitherto peaceful and harmonious society. For how can one explain the fact that the boys saved by fate, rather than staying strong together, would plot against each other? A plane carrying British boys gets shot down over the Pacific as a result of an unnamed war, sending the boys to a Coral Island. The plane’s pilot dies during the incident, signaling at the very beginning the detrimental impacts of war. As the boys settle in the mysterious Island, they expect to have a great time. They elect an authority figure, Ralph, to lead them, but his election is contested by Jack. Piggy is one of the closest boys to Ralph and serves the role of reinforcing sense and consciousness in all. As the story unfolds, the boys turn savagery and even begin killing each other.
William Golding gives us one of the most interesting stories on savagery and survival through the book Lord of the Flies. Still ranking among the top 100 novels in most libraries, Golding’s narrations hold the reader’s curiosity throughout. The schoolboys who survive a plane crash and are thrown in a state of disarray in a Coral Island pumps the heartbeats. One would have assumed that as teens, they had the much-desired freedom of teenagehood. But helas! They soon degenerate and begin turning on each other.
Golding’s Lord of the Flies was written a few years after World War II at a time when nations were terrified by the possibility of another global war. The Cold War kept on escalating, and this might have shaped most of the reasoning of Golding throughout the book’s plot. It is a tale of survival for British boys who get stuck in a Coral Island after their plane crashes. All the boys are young and the oldest is barely 12 years. At first glance, this Island is littered with glamour and all wonderful things nature can provide. They all believe that they are set for a great time in a newfound paradise. However, it does not take long before they all enter into disagreements with one another, and soon their life on this Island turns violent and hellish.
The author uses a lot of symbolism. Thus, from a literature perspective, the Island could be regarded as Earth and the boys are all the nations that occupy it. We are so excited about life on our planet, and we all look forward to having a great experience here. However, nations soon start making alliances against other nations, just as the boys did. This raises tensions with wars breaking out every now and then. Earth no longer becomes as appealing as we thought it would be. It is human nature to try and out-do each other, exactly what the boys in the novel do. But then, what good does the competition have if all it does is cause more deaths? There are brilliant ways in which we can enter into a competition, for instance, trying to better life rather than taking it. Golding does a pretty good job of reinforcing this message.
Jack, Ralph, and Piggy
Jack, Ralph, and Piggy are three interesting characters that will retain the attention of the reader. Since the boys do not have a usual leader to take charge of everything, they have to fend for themselves. Ralph decides to assume the leadership position, given that he is a bit more knowledgeable compared to the other boys. In order to ensure democracy, he brings the boys together and gets voted as their leader. He is closely supported by Piggy, who is depicted as Ralph’s conscience. The act in which Ralph does not automatically decide to lead the others before getting their approval is symbolic and significant. Doing otherwise would tantamount to dictatorship. We have seen so many countries all over the world in which leaders have little regard for democracy. They rig elections, and rarely do they allow for a free and open participation forum for them to get elected in positions. This mainly happens in situations where they assume they are the only ones properly equipped to take the leadership mantle.
The beauty of democracy is that it leaves room for the leader to be opposed. The fact that you have the votes does not mean you should operate as you want. In the novel, Jack Merridew contests Ralph’s election. Having led choir boys before, the cool boy with an equally active base of followers feels that he should be given the chance to direct the boys on how to go about the Island. Thanks to Piggy’s input and Ralph’s reluctant approach to leadership, the castaways manage to have at least two days of peace in their small Island village. It does not take long before things start falling apart. They become unable to perform their respective activities, like keeping the fire burning at all times.
As is always the case in the world of politics, the opposition develops greater resent and detest for the elected leader. Jack is no longer pleased with how Ralph leads them and chooses to break off the main group. This sets the way for continued isolation of Ralph as Jack recruits more boys to his camp. Things completely get out of hand in the tropical Island when Piggy is attacked and killed by Jack’s tribe. His glasses get smashed in the process. This is yet another powerful symbolism that Golding showcases. Let us not forget that Piggy had been the source of reason and moderation for Ralph. His death is a clear indication that rational thought and civilization is dead. How would the boys survive in this Island when all of these are no longer in existence?
This depicts exactly what happens in most nations across the world. Take Sudan and South Sudan as case studies. The two states existed as one and was one of the largest countries in the world. However, the displeasure amongst leaders triggered the split into Sudan and South Sudan. Even after the split, the individual countries have not had political stability. William Golding had a clear understanding of what exactly goes on around the world. After all, he had witnessed World War II, which gave him more inspiration in the whole writing. It is no wonder he got a Nobel Prize for the work.
The disruptive effects of war are unimaginable. We have all read about what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki upon being hit by an atom bomb. Even though the bombing was responsible for the war’s end, the effects still live on to-date. Innocent children and thousands of other helpless citizens who had nothing to do with the power tussle for power are the ones bearing the pain. Is war worth it? Definitely not, and Golding found the right way to tell us that we can put a stop to all this madness.
Restoring humanity and conscience
No matter how far we might be off track with regards to living in peace with each other, Golding assures us that it is possible to get things back on the rail. As the boys continue with the savagery habits of attacking each other, a naval officer all of a sudden appears in gleaming uniform. One could consider the officer to be representation of a higher form of power, maybe God or the United Nations formed to maintain world peace.
He saves the boys from this violent world with the intention of taking them somewhere much better. Given that the officer puts the children in his military vessel, one might also conclude that the new world they get into may present them with more risks to encounter war and savagery. Whichever way the officer plays his role in watering the state of depression readers may have been entangled in the fratricidal tussle between friends.
This book is more knowledgeable than one can ever imagine. It presents us with real-world situations where all that leaders care about are their needs. Most of the actions that leaders take, which create a state of tension and savagery, is triggered by complacency. The presence of democracy itself is not enough. There must be mechanisms to safeguard it.