In Lord of the Flies, what is the author trying to say about parenting?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think this question can be answered by linking the response in to a much larger theme which is that of the innate savagery inside all humans. Let us remember that one of the characteristics of this excellent novel is the complete absence of adults until the very end. The children are left alone by themselves, stranded on an island, and thus Golding presents us with a group of humans free from the restrictions of values and civilisation. The way in which the boys gradually (some quicker than others) lose any pretense of being civilised and fall into anarchy presents a very powerful message of the way that the savage instinct is something that is very fundamental and essential to our human psyches. The message of the novel seems to be that in the conflict of civilisation vs. savagery, savagery is by far the strongest force when humans are removed from society as humans show themselves to be innately evil and corrupt. This is clearly something that Ralph realises at the very end of the novel, from perhaps its most important quote:

Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of a true, wise friend called Piggy.

Ralph himself has experienced the truth of the innate evil of humanity first hand, observing the way that boys have savagely turned upon each other and killed.

Thinking about parenting then, it is clear that civilisation plays an incredibly important role in trying to keep us from following our savage innate instincts. Parenting is one aspect of this role of civilisation, as parents bring up their children to follow the norms and values of society rather than respond to their inner, more selfish and more violent desires.

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