Examine the part played by hunters in the story. How important do you think they are? Give reasons to support what you say,please.

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The role of the hunters is of paramount importance as the boys' degeneration into savagery and disorder demonstrates the regression that humans make without the order of society and with the indulgence of a self in primal urges. Ralph and Piggy and Jack and Roger represent the conflict between the rational man and the savage man.  In Chapter 3, for instance, Golding writes that Ralph and Jack "walked along two continents of experience and feeling."  Their conflict is further evidenced in the meetings in which Jack and Piggy argue with Jack telling Piggy to "shut up."  Later, Jack destroys Piggy's glasses.  This conflict is illustrated well in the actions of Roger, who picks up a stone--"that token of preposperous time--and throws up by Henry.  He then throws more stones at Henry, yet he keeps a space around Henry:

Here, invisible yet strong, was the taboo of the old life. Round the squatting child was the protection of parents and school and policemen and the law.  Roger's arm was conditioned by a civilization that knew nothing of him and was in ruins.

Once the order of Ralph and Piggy is "in ruins," and the hunters cover any remnant of civilization with masks so that they will no longer have their arms "conditioned by a civilization" disorder rules and Jack and the hunter/savages wreak havoc, killing Simon and pursuing Ralph with this same end in mind.  It is only the appearance of the ultimate control of a civilization, a military man ("policemen") that order is restored in the rescue of the boys.

The hunters represent the low, savage level of humanity, a level that is one of disorder and cruelty, a level of human behavior that pits the strong against the weak and can only be checked by police-like control, not by reason.  This truth is evidenced in our own society, is it not?


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Lord of the Flies

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