In "Lord of the Flies," how does the island make the children savage?In reference to how they speak; their habits; their clothing; their shelters; their diet and their cleanliness.

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ajmchugh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Golding establishes the contrast between order and chaos (or civilization and savagery) early on in the novel.  On page 18, he describes the children as the emerge from wherever they landed after the crash; he notes that some of the boys were dressed in uniforms, while others were naked and carrying their clothes.  They are accustomed to taking direction from authority figures, and many of them sit on a fallen palm trunk and wait for orders from the older children.  Also on this page, Golding makes clear that the island itself has been untouched by humans to this point.  Fallen palm trunks stay where they fell, as there is no one to remove them.  Boys make their way through a "tangle of undergrowth" that is overgrown because no one has ever trimmed it.  However, through Simon's eyes, readers are able to understand that the tropical island itself is beautiful and that it is inherently a peaceful and serene place.

Despite the lack of an established civilization on the island, the reason the children resort to savagery is that human nature dictates their behavior. Ralph longs for order, and he is continually disturbed by his growing hair, his soiled clothes, and the dirt underneath his fingernails.  He is able to understand the implications of Jack's behavior and the danger that goes along with a lack of order. 

Ultimately, Golding sought to prove that people, when removed from civilization, will fall victim to the savage instincts that exist in all of us.  The island itself is not the problem.

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Lord of the Flies

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