Lord of the Flies and the Significance of World War II
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Lord of the Flies by William Goulding is the book I have decided to choose for my 3rd quarter essay. It was a book that fascinated me when I read it and is debatably my favorite book that we have learned in school up to this point. To begin, it touches on so many different themes about human nature and society: the struggle for power, the importance of laws and rules, mental health, and how the only monsters on this earth are us. Goulding had experienced World War 2 himself, and his primary inspiration for writing the book was to warn us that what happened in Germany could happen anywhere. It could happen here or on an island with a group of young schoolboys. Goulding shows us that evil exists not just in those who commit awful crimes, but in all of us. Another critical aspect of the book was the Beast and how it is still, to this day, one of the most magnificent antagonists I have ever read about in any publication. Lord of the Flies was one of the most exciting and riveting books I have read in all of high school, and I believe it has to do with the fact that I read it as a fifteen-year-old boy. I do not think I would resonate with the main characters as well if I were older. All the underlying themes and meanings to the book are more comfortable to grasp on to in class, and these reasons are why I believe that this book is good to read in a class setting. I think everyone should read Lord of the Flies in high school because it’s one of the most influential books that I have ever read, and I feel it wouldn’t be as appreciated if you read it much later in your life without the discussion along with it.
Looting, raping, and murder take place throughout the area affected, and no one is there to enforce the laws. It shows that we need rules to keep us civilized. Goulding saw what happened in World War Two when the law broke down; Civilization broke down too. His novel was written to warn us of this danger, which I believe is very important to learn.
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There are tons of themes in this book, but none as important as the theme of society. Goulding draws profound implications for society. He writes that because of the potential to do badly in every person, there will always be criminals and evil in human communities, no matter how well-intentioned that society’s ideologies could be. Lord of the Flies shows us that a society without laws and law enforcement would never work. A significant theme in the book is the different types of power, some used and misused. Power through democracy is shown throughout the book when choices and decisions are shared among many people on the island. The Conch represents the Democratic Power. Ralph rules using Democratic Power, also the Social Contract. In contrast to Ralph standing as a beacon of democracy, Jack shows authoritarian power by threatening and terrifying others. The Knife he carries symbolizes this. Another theme is the Fear of the Unknown. Throughout the book, the boy’s fear of the unknown on the island leads to their fear of the Beast. Simon understands the fear of the unknown, and what’s happening on the island, however, the boys do not. This also connects to the theme of blindness and sight. Piggy is blind to his immediate surroundings but understands what is going on. Unfortunately, the boys do not realize that Piggy could help them, and he is outcast and is eventually killed by Roger.
Another theme that is found in Lord of the Flies is the loss of innocence. As the boys on the island progress from well-behaved children waiting for their rescue to cruel, bloodthirsty hunters who have no desire to return to civilization, they naturally lose the sense of innocence that they had at the beginning of the novel. Goulding does not intend to portray this loss of innocence as something that is done to the children, but rather, it results naturally from their increasing exposure to the evil and savagery that has always existed within them. The forest glade in which Simon sits symbolizes this loss of innocence. At first, it is a place of natural beauty and peace, but when Simon returns later in the novel, he discovers the bloody pig’s head impaled on a stake in the middle of that same clearing. It was meant to be an offering to the Beast and shows that this has affected many things that existed before this island. It stands as a powerful symbol of human evil, disrupting childhood innocence.
Lord of the flies, however, goes beyond just the theme. The significance of the book at the time it was published was extraordinary. There aren’t a lot of other books where there are so many apparent uses of literary devices. This book makes it easy to pick up on all the things the author is alluding to in the text and reading it as a sort of introduction to high school English classes helped me get an understanding of what to look out for when annotating.
One of the unique aspects of the book is that every character represents something different. Ralph is a charismatic character who represents the government and Leadership. Jack represents Anarchy, power, and dominance. Simon represents religion, daddy, and Christ. Rodger represents humanity’s desire to kill. Piggy represents technology; he symbolizes science and rationality. This story behind every character there is greater depth golding shows that he did not create characters for the sake of Heaven characters but that all the characters have importance. The symbolism in this book is also extremely significant. For example, the Conch symbolizes the last part of civilization that the boys have left in them till it’s broken. At first, The Conch seemed like just a shell until further on in the story you begin to realize its true meaning, time back to the idea that this book is meant to help understand the symbolism and hidden meanings in the text. The boys always built a signal fire to alert ships, but as time passed on, the boys lost interest in the light, which alludes to their loss of connection to civilization. One of the most symbolic things in the book is the Beast. The boys think that there is a beast on the island until Simon finally figures out that the Beast is just the darkness inside themselves. This is golding’s way of showing us that even the most innocent people can become Savage and that there is always an animalistic instinct inside us. Lord of the Flies also examines Human Nature. The boys make individual decisions based on their upbringings and various backgrounds. For example, at the beginning of the book, when Roger is throwing stones at Henry but aims to miss. This signifies that Rodger still respects Law and Order. But, by the end of the book Rodger has turned to a complete Savage and kills Piggy with a boulder.
On the topic of why I think everyone should read Lord of the Flies in high school, it has to do with the fact that there are many political allegories and religious motifs explorable in the classroom setting. In my view, the challenges of the underlying Assumption of Western culture, and that is that people had through centuries of progress, become civilized. While I appreciate how philosophical golding is I can’t entirely agree with his opinion on what would have happened in that scenario, what I think because I’m able to question the writing it is underappreciated by those assigned to read it in high schools today
One of the most significant literary devices golding uses throughout the entire book is irony. There’s irony in almost every aspect of the book. For example, boys. They are all well off British boys; they are stereotypically represented as the height of Western Civilization, yet they so quickly turn into Savages. What part of no the parachutist was a soldier from war who died in the Air Force while serving his country the fact that the boys thought that the parachutist was a beast was ironic because of the fact that the soldier is very far from the Beast. The boys wanted nothing but guidance or sign from adults hoping it will better their chances of survival to this the parachutist is dropped onto the island. The only adult in the presence of the children ends up causing the most chaos with beliefs that he is the Beast. Another example is the fire that was set at the end of the novel that was intended as an act of Destruction, and it actually acted as the signal fire that saves them all from an inevitable Doom on the island. There’s also tons of irony within the characters themselves. Piggy is known to be a significant character, yet we never find out his actual name. She is also severely mocked on a daily basis despite being the smartest boy. Simon’s death, for example, is ironic because he was on his way down to tell the boys the truth about the Beast was just a Dead Soldier and I had nothing more to fear about yet he himself was mistaken Beast and violently murdered proving that the Beast only existed within themselves. It is ironic how Simon is killed for being mistaken as the Beast when he is considered the Angelic figure on the island. Simon was on his way to save the boys literally and metaphorically by telling them the truth, but he was murdered for being a mistake as the Beast, which alludes to the devil.
On the topic of the ending of the book, it is personally my favorite part. Its abrupt, but what other ending could there be? That the boys inevitably kill Ralph and are succumb to savagery and then, what? How would anyone know if they were rescued or not? My question about such an ending would be the same as the officer that found them, ‘How could such a group to decsend in to such insanity?’