World War II convinced Golding that people have, in spite of certain admirable qualities, a powerful evil in their nature which civilization generally keeps in bounds, but which can be unleashed with great force to undermine their aspirations and negate their ideals. The war further persuaded Golding that evil appears insidiously and grows while humankind denies its very existence, until it mushrooms into an unmanageable force. The only way to avoid being overwhelmed by this evil is to acknowledge its existence and see man as he is, without either the veneer of civilization or idealized images of noble, innocent primitives. If human nature with its mixture of good and evil impulses can be understood, individuals will be in a better position to direct their positive powers, discipline their negative ones, and avoid another demonstration of inhumanity comparable to Hiroshima or Auschwitz.
Golding once asserted in an interview that the theme of Lord of the Flies is "an attempt to trace the defects of society back to the defects of human nature. The moral is that the shape of society must depend on the ethical nature of the individual and not on any political system however apparently logical or respectable." Perhaps for this reason, neither political system the boys try to initiate succeeds. The democracy of meetings on the beach seems to work at first as the boys vote for a chief, decide to build a signal fire, and appoint Jack and the choir to hunt...
(The entire section is 1061 words.)
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Good and Evil
During their abandonment on the island, Ralph, Piggy, Simon, and many of the other boys show elements of good in their characters. Ralph's calm "stillness," and his attentiveness to others' needs, make him a potentially good person. Good may be defined here as something just, virtuous, or kind that conforms to the moral order of the universe. Piggy's knowledge and belief in the power of science and rational thought to help people understand and thus control the physical world for their mutual benefit are also obviously a force for good. Simon, always ready to help out, sensitive to the power of evil but not afraid to stand up to it, is perhaps the strongest representative of the forces of good in the story.
Yet all of these characters ultimately fall victim to the forces of evil, as represented by the cruelties of the hunters, especially Jack and Roger. Piggy loses his glasses, and thus the power to make fire. This power, when controlled by the forces of reason, is a powerful tool for good: it warms the boys, cooks their food, and provides smoke for the rescue signals that are their only hope for survival. But in the hands of those with less skill and knowledge, the fire becomes an agent of destruction— first unintentionally in the hands of those who are ignorant of its powers, then purposefully when Jack and the hunters use it to smoke out and destroy their opponents. It is Simon's bad luck to stumble upon the...
(The entire section is 1063 words.)