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Who abuses power in the "Lord of the Flies"?William Golding's "Lord of the Flies"

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mohammed77 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 6, 2010 at 2:58 AM via web

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Who abuses power in the "Lord of the Flies"?

William Golding's "Lord of the Flies"

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 6, 2010 at 4:58 AM (Answer #1)

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The two characters who have been given power by the other boys on the island in "Lord of the Flies" are, indeed, Ralph and Jack.  Certainly, Ralph does, at times, take advantage of his power as he deprecates Piggy and insists on his way sometimes.  However, the character who is the most abusive of power is Jack.  Voted as the head of the hunters, he carries his leadership beyond reasonable limits as he forces his group to separate themselves from the otherboys and to perform savage rituals and engages them in the theft of the fire from Ralph's group.  In addition, he steals from Piggy's his glasses, a gesture symbolic of the dissolution of rationality among the boys and the descent into savagery. 

While Jack is the leader who in the end has the most power as chaos and savagery reign supreme, Roger--representative of innate sadism and savagery--is empowered only by Jack as his henchman, for his license to be evil emanates from the absence of the restraints of society once Ralph and Piggy lose control.

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mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted January 6, 2010 at 5:34 AM (Answer #2)

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In the book" The Lord of the Flies" most people would immediately say that Jack abused power.  The reader is aware that Jack wants power and grasps for it at the first assembly of the boys when he tells the others that he should be the chief because he was the leader of the choir boys.  Later in the book he uses his emerging skills and willingness to hunt to persuade the other boys to join his tribe.  Once they join his tribe, he sits among the group as if on a throne having the boys serve him and gives them commands which they follow. However, he is just one of the many who abuse power on the island.

The older boys hold power over the younger children.  Roger throws rocks at the younger children and teases them.  The older boys all mock Piggy and mistreat him. Eric bosses Sam.  In the book it is evident that without adults to place some degree of restraint on the boys each one has abused power over younger or weaker boys with the exception of Simon. He is more the spiritual representation.  Even Piggy grabs the conch out of another child’s hand.

 

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 6, 2010 at 3:11 AM (Answer #3)

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You could say that both Ralph and Jack abuse their power in this book.  Both of them do this quite a bit in their dealings with Piggy.

From the beginning of the book, Ralph abuses Piggy.  He calls him "Piggy" even though Piggy hates the nickname.  He also is constantly telling him to shut up.

While Ralph verbally abuses Piggy, Jack is also willing to abuse him physically as well.  For example, in Chapter 4, Jack punches Piggy, causing his glasses to fly off and break.  Later on in the story, he will even steal the remaining lens of Piggy's glasses.

 

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MaudlinStreet | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted January 6, 2010 at 4:00 AM (Answer #4)

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In addition to the previous post, I would like to add that Roger also abuses power in the novel. Although he is not the chief, he certainly represents the darkest side of human nature. One might compare him to military commanders in dictatorships or police states: they may not be the one with power nominally, but they surely hold the power behind the scenes. For example, when one of the lookouts tells him Jack is beating a follower, Roger muses on the possibilities of irresponsible authority. He recognizes how much freedom exists in chaos. In such an atmosphere, where there are no legal or moral restraints, he is free to act as he pleases and satisfy his sadistic tendencies. Unlike Jack, who sees violence as necessity, Roger views it as opportunity.

The twins, Samneric, recognize this too. After being beaten and forced to join Jack's tribe, they speak to Ralph, who attempts to win them over to his side again. but they are terrified.

“You don’t know Roger. He’s a terror.”
“And the chief—they’re both—”
“—terrors—”
“—only Roger—”

You can see that it is not really Jack they are afraid of: it's Roger. They confirm this with their final statement to Ralph “Roger sharpened a stick at both ends.” That one line sums up the delight Roger has discovered in abusing others. He uses the power of Jack to enact his own torture fantasies. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in Piggy's death. Roger watches the rock crush Piggy almost serenely, seeming to revel in his first kill. He is truly the one who reveals the beast within.

 

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