Two separate illustrations of an animal head and a fire on a mountain

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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How does the society from Lord of the Flies compare and contrast to today's society?

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The chaotic society that develops on the uninhabited tropical island is a microcosm of what is transpiring in the outside world throughout the story. While a nuclear world war is taking place, the boys quickly descend into savagery and begin to engage in acts of violence. Golding's story critiques society and reveals that the veil of civility is extremely thin. At the beginning of the story, the boys attempt to develop a democracy by voting for a chief and establishing rules regarding the conch. Similar to modern society, the democratic practice of voting takes place and citizens are required to obey laws. The boys also divide the necessary chores and tasks among themselves, which reflects modern society's division of labor. The boys also establish a militia, which is led by Jack. His band of hunters and soldiers resembles a modern army or paramilitary force. The boys' numerous acts of violence also resemble the chaotic atmosphere of modern war zones. Despite the many similarities between the primitive civilization established on the uninhabited island and modern society, there is a lack of complex institutions, agencies, or government organizations on the island. The boys' society also lacks an economy, monetary system, and advanced trade networks, which are essential aspects of modern society.

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Lord of the Flies begins after a group of school boys has landed on a deserted island whilst being evacuated. Evacuation was  common practice during World War II. Today's society is affected by war but the western world, (England in the boys' case)is largely far from the fighting. Therefore there are less civilians injured.The psychological damage though compares as military personnel return to homes and normal lives after devastating and traumatic incidents, unable to cope. This would have been the same in World War II as soldiers suffered from what was then called "shell shock." Obviously, modern medicine can provide better medical care than it could then. 

There would have been rations (only certain amounts of food per family)when the boys were in England but in today's society western economies are strong and rations are unnecessary. The closest to rations in today's economies are when there is a shortage of a certain food and shops then limit quantities that can be bought. 

Expectations of a group of schoolboys would be quite similar as they would be expected to manage themselves well and according to certain standards. An officer rescuing a group of boys today would be as shocked to see the savagery as they were when the boys were rescued because "after all, we're not savages. We're English" as Jack himself points out in chapter 2. Nowadays, a group of boys on an island may miss their gadgets, computers and mobile phones; some even finding it difficult to adapt to a lifestyle on the beach and in makeshift shelters. However, they may even relish the chance to go camping as some boys would have missed out on any such opportunities. 

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