The story Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, is a novel displaying how fragile a society is. This story is about a plane full of young boys that crashes onto an island. At first, the boys think that it will be fun to be on their own with no adults, but they soon realize that it will be more difficult to survive than they thought. While trying to survive and be rescued, leaders are chosen and unfortunately the boys begin to go savage and their darkest sides shine through. By the end, most of the boys don’t survive, due to problems that their society created. At first glance, it may seem Lord of the Flies is a story about survival. However, upon closer examination it becomes clear that the book demonstrates different elements that cause a society to fall apart. This is represented by fear as a motivation for decisions, hierarchies, and the idea of evil in everyone.
The first element that can lead a society to fail is decisions are motivated by fear. After the boys land on the island, they begin to discuss the need for rules. Jack declares, “We’ll have rules! Lot’s of rules! Then when anyone breaks em’-” (Golding 33). At first, Jack’s announcement scares a lot of the boys. In fact, this drives the boys to follow rules even more, in fear of Jack’s threat. Later in the book, Simon is killed by the other boys. Piggy and Ralph discuss this, and Piggy ends up defending the murder of Simon, “We was scared! Anything might have happened. It wasn’t what you said,” (Golding 156). By saying this, Piggy is blaming Simon’s death on the fear instilled in the boys. Fear that is used as a motivation is also shown at the very end of the story. Jack forms a new tribe and forces people to be a part of it by beating or tying up those who don’t oblige. After involuntarily joining, a group of boys say, “- they made us. They hurt us-,” (Golding 188). Scared to face Jack and the consequences, these boys are cowards. This does not support their civilization because torture and manipulation is a bad way to rule. A little fear can benefit a society because it motivates people to do the right things, however when there is too much of it people make bad decisions that end up destroying the society.
Next, Golding uses hierarchies in the story and shows how they can cause a society to fall apart. When the boys first crash, they start to pick leaders. When it’s time to vote for Ralph, “Every hand outside the choir except Piggy’s was raised,” (Golding 23). By voting a leader, the boys start to create a society. However, when Ralph is announced the chief, some of the boys become jealous because they want to have the power. Later in the story, Ralph asks “Piggy? Are you the only one?” to which Piggy replies, “There’s some littluns” Ralph responds, “They don’t count. No biguns?” (Golding 155). This conversation between the boys demonstrates that there is a hierarchy between the older and younger boys. The littluns are not cared for and treated like the older boys. Their society isn’t functional because everyone isn’t treated equally. At the end of the book, Jack forms a new tribe that gives him the power to make the decisions and be chief. Bragging to Ralph, Jack states, “See? They do what I want,” (Golding 179). Jack is now at the top of the hierarchy, due to the power he now obtains. The power takes over Jack and he forces his tribe to torture the other boys. This corrupts him and harms all of the inhabitants on the island. Just like in the story, a leader who has too much power can make a society suffer.
Finally, the last element that the author employs is the idea of evil within everyone and how it can lead to a society’s destruction. In the beginning, this darkness is first shown when Roger tries to hurt one if the littluns by purposely throwing rocks at them. He “gathered a handful of stones and began to throw them,” (Golding 62). Using his power to intentionally hurt another boy, Roger displays evil. Also, when Jack forms a new tribe, they realize that they are going to need to make a fire to survive. Instead of making their own, they decide to steal it from the other boys. Jack commands his new tribe, “We’ll raid them and take the fire,” (Golding 136). Jack’s tribe willingly chooses to compromise the lives of the other boys by stealing one of their resources. Even though this is an act of survival, it is truly evil and it ensures that not all of the boys will make it. When lives are sacrificed, it causes a society to fall apart. Towards the end, Jack begins to use his power to physically hurt some of his companions, he “got angry and made us all tie Wilfred up,” (Golding 159). Eventually, Jack gets lost in all the power, and uses it to damage his mates. Golding tries to show the evil in everyone in the book, and by doing so he also shows that the evil in people can wreck a society.
Overall, Golding’s story, Lord of the Flies gives a new perspective of what it takes for a society to collapse. In his book, the boys’ civilization begins to fall apart about a month after crashing. The boys do not know how to lead successfully. Because of the poor leadership, the boys turn on each other and survival instincts take over. This reflects upon society today, because too much fear, extreme hierarchies and the evil in people can make or break a successful civilization.