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In William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, a group of stranded boys must survive on their own on a tropical island. Without any sort of adult supervision their relationships disintegrate and they end of forming two competing groups that exhibit different values.
The group led by Ralph tries to hold on to the values of the boys’ past. Jack’s group, however, begins to revert back to a more primitive lifestyle. Their values become what we would call the values of “savages.” They begin to lose the attributes that we would associate with civilized society and cultural development.
We see how the values of Jack’s group have changed in several ways in the book. The boys in this group become hunters, and, as such, they begin to show a primitive, ritualistic behavior, chanting:
Kill the pig! Cut his throat! Kill the pig! Bash him in!'"
This chanting signifies a reversion back to an earlier kind of human being, away from the refined schoolboy that they all were when they arrived on the island. It draws on the power of the single-minded group, rather than the rule of law.
Later, the ritualized behavior results in the death of Simon, who is “mistaken” for the beast by the frenzied boys. In reality, it is probably not a mistake, as Simon represents what is truly good in the society they have left behind. The boys do not want someone like Simon in their midst any longer.
Finally, the boys in Jack’s group become brutal and ruthless. The hated Piggy, who tries so hard to hold on to the conch as a symbol of civilization and order, is murdered:
The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee; the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist.
It is no accident that Piggy and the conch are destroyed in the same incident. The boys in Jack’s group do not want Piggy around—he is a reminder of the life they have left behind. And, they don’t want the conch, which is supposed to give group members the right to speak at meetings. They have replaced “rules,” which the conch represents, with raw power. Now, if one is strong enough to do something, they can do it without having to adhere to the established rules of society.
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