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 pigs for food. But soon the meetings are disrupted by boys falling off a log and lots of laughter. No one will responsibly maintain the fire, and eventually hunting pigs becomes cruel violence driven by a desire to exorcise the imagined beast. The dictatorship that Jack has over his choristers-be-come-hunters is no more successful. They kill a pig for food but become hooked by the power and violence. Then they kill Piggy, an intelligent if awkward boy, who has ideas that help them survive on the island. They also kill Simon, the boy who understands that the beast is within them. They are stalking Ralph and only prevented from killing him by being rescued.
More apparent than his undercutting political systems are Golding's jibes at nationalistic smugness. Early on, the boys assume they can manage their affairs quite easily, simply because they are English. Ironically, Jack, the first to move toward anarchy, asserts, "We've got to have rules and obey them. After all, we're not savages. We're English, and the English are best at everything." But even the English are human and imperfect. At the end of the novel, the rescuing...
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