At the end of the novel the naval officer brings the boys back to civilization, meaning that humanity can be returned to civilization.Demonstrate this idea using specific examples from Lord of the...

At the end of the novel the naval officer brings the boys back to civilization, meaning that humanity can be returned to civilization.

Demonstrate this idea using specific examples from Lord of the Flies.

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In accord with the post of mstokes, the fact that a naval officer arrives and the boys are to be taken back to civilization in a battle ship, leaves much doubt in the mind of the reader that civilization, as such, has ever been as perfect as Piggy has imagined, and that "adults know how to make things right." After all, there is a war going on in the adult world, too.

Added to this fact, as Thomas Wolfe wrote, "You can't go home again."  That is, after having certain experiences, one cannot return to the innocent state that one was in prior to these experiences--"Ralph wept for the end of innocence...."  This adage is also demonstrated in the reaction of Jack, who

carried the remains of a pair of spectacles at his waist, started forward, then changed his mind and stood still.

Clearly, the rescue has come too late.


mstokes | Student

I disagree with the suggestion that humanity can be returned to civilization at the end of the novel for the reasons stated hereunder.

A  ship arrives and naval officer lands on the island near where Ralph is lying, and his sudden appearance brings the pursuit of Ralph, and his imminent slaughter to an abrupt halt. Learning of their activities on the island the officer exclaims that he would have expected more from British boys At this point he believes they are playing a game as he is unaware of the  murders of Simon and Piggy.

The appearance of the officer is ironic. The children, we know, are in flight from a war. The naval officer is a representative of that war. This “civilized” officer, therefore, is himself part of an adult world in which violence and war go hand in hand with civilization and social order. He reacts to the savage children with disgust. We can view this as an example of adult hypocricy.

Even Ralph, whose life has been saved by the presence of the officer weeps tears of grief for his own loss of innocence, and his newfound awareness of the darkness of human nature.

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


mkcapen1 | Student

In Golding's book "Lord of the Flies" Ralph has been running and having to hide from Jack.  Jack and the boys have crossed over to the total commitment to savagery and are trying to kill Ralph.  Ralph hides in the thorn thickets, but the twins reveal his hiding palace.  He is pushed out by the boys launching a rock.  He runs for his life and just as it is about to be taken a naval officer sees him on the beach.  Ralph breaks down and cries. 

The return to civilization is expressed by one statement made by Ralph.  The British officer asks Ralph who is in charge.  He replies:

"'I am,' said Ralph loudly."(201)

Despite all the torment and lack of civilized actions and behavior prior to his meeting with the officer, Ralph regains claim to civil laws and expectations by making his statement.  Jack has now surpassed his ability to be the leader in a civilized society based on his behavior on the island. 






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Lord of the Flies

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