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Lord of the Flies

by William Golding
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Do humans need rules and order to maintain a stable society, according to William Golding's Lord of the Flies?

The author of Lord of the Flies, William Golding, uses the character Piggy to comment on the concept of morality. The boys on the island are without structure, rules or adult supervision and they quickly turn to a state of savagery. Piggy is the only character who tries to maintain order and morality throughout the novel, but his efforts are mostly in vain. In particular, this question refers to Ralph's quest for order within society and Jack's hunt-centric leadership style which relies heavily on his charisma. As time progresses, Ralph realizes that he does not have enough power over the boys to keep them from doing anything they want at any given time.

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Lord of the Flies is William Golding's answer to the Victorian novel The Coral Island, in which boys left to themselves have adventures. Golding's novel relates how boys left to create their own society actually degenerate into murder and mayhem. The reasons are that they reject the basic foundations...

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Lord of the Flies is William Golding's answer to the Victorian novel The Coral Island, in which boys left to themselves have adventures. Golding's novel relates how boys left to create their own society actually degenerate into murder and mayhem. The reasons are that they reject the basic foundations of civilization, namely order, purposeful work, and morality.

Throughout the story, Ralph is the one who is the greatest advocate for order and purposeful work. As the elected chief, he wields the conch, the symbol of authority. He makes decisions and assigns duties, giving permission for Jack's choir boys to be hunters, Simon to help with the exploration of the island, and Piggy to take names of the little 'uns. He also oversees the building of the shelters and establishes the rule of having a signal fire burning on top of the mountains at all times. However, from the beginning Ralph does not have a firm moral core; he immediately hurts Piggy by telling everyone the nickname Piggy had asked him not to reveal. Rather than apologizing sincerely, he takes the morally neutral road of saying, "I'm sorry if you feel like that," and then redirecting Piggy to a task.

Ralph finds it difficult from the beginning to maintain order among the boys and keep them focused on their tasks. Only a couple of boys are committed enough to erect the final shelter. Jack's hunters operate as a kind of savage band who follow raw instincts rather than order. They have been assigned the purposeful work of keeping the fire going, but they let it go out and miss having a passing ship see it. 

Simon is the character who represents the inner core of morality that the boys truly need to survive. He alone realizes that the beast "is only us." When he "meets" with the Lord of the Flies and receives a fuller realization of the "beast within," he learns that the moral darkness is "the reason why it's no go." Simon, of course, is murdered by the boys in their savage dance in the dark of night, symbolizing the complete loss of morality.

Ultimately, the conch--the symbol of order--and Piggy's glasses and Piggy himself--the symbols of purposeful work--are shattered as the boys plunge into complete disorder controlled only by savage instincts. Golding shows that their society has failed due to lack of order, lack of purposeful work, and lack of morality.

 

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