How does the setting affect the character, his attitudes,actions,and motivations in Lord of the Flies?On any character. William Golding's Lord of the Flies

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A minor character, Roger demonstrates well the affect of leaving civilization has upon attitudes, motivations, and actions.  In Chapter One of Lord of the Flies, Roger appears as a

slight, furtive boy whom no one knew, who kept to himself with an inner intensity of avoidance and secrecy.  He muttered that his name was Roger and was silent again.

Then, in Chapter Two, Roger again appears as he takes the conch and "looked around...gloomily."  He tells the boys,

"I've been watching the sea.  There hasn't been the trace of a ship.  Perhaps we'll never be rescued."

Here Roger emerges as a sinister force.  Perhaps he is prophetic; perhaps he does not desire to be rescued.  For, in Chapter Four Roger's predatory nature is revealed as he stoops to pick up a stone, "that token of preposterous time," and bounce it a few yards to little Henry who sits at the beach's edge watching the small crabs that run in and out with the tide. Yet, as Roger gathers the stones and throws them,

there was a space round Henry...into which he dare not throw.  Here, invisible yet strong, was the taboo of the old life.

In this passage, Golding writes that Roger's arm "was conditioned by a civilization that knew nothing of him and was in ruins."  Once Roger realizes that the trappings of civilization have deteriorated, and once Jack's leadership becomes stronger and the boys paint their faces--which "Roger understood, nodd[ing] gravely"--and hunt and kill, Roger is in his element.  Now, on the island he can give full vent to his sadistic nature.  For instance, after Jack and his tribe become stronger, Roger uses force and cruelty on the boys to make them comply with orders.  Then, in Chapter Seven as the boys engage in the ritual in which Robert pretends to be the pig, Robert begins screaming; "behind him was [the sadistic] Roger, fighting to get close."  And, as Ralph and Jack climb up the mountain also in Chapter Seven, Roger appears, "uncommunicative."  While Ralph sits on a log, Roger bangs "his silly stick" against it.  Later, he lays behind Ralph as though waiting for some opportunity--now the veritable savage.

Finally, Roger is able to totally release his sadistic nature as, in Chapter Eleven, he leans all his weight on the lever beneath a pink granite boulder, and "with a sense of delirious abandonment," he releases the rock onto Piggy's head.  Completely savage, Roger throws spears and sharpens one on both ends for hunting Ralph.  He intimidates the others; for example,Samneric lie on the ground,

looking up in quiet terror. Roger advanced upon them as one wielding a nameless authority.

Released from the constraints of society that has conditioned him, on the island the sadistic Roger can act upon his savage urges and delight in his brutality without reprisal.

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Lord of the Flies

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