Which characters can be compared between those of To Kill a Mockingbird and those of Lord of the Flies?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In considering the characters of the two novels, one commonality that is shared is the realization of "man's essential illness" as noted in Lord of the Flies and in To Kill a Mockingbird as "Maycomb's usual disease." This illness/disease is the inherent evil in man that manifests itself in certain ways, one of which is hatred for others, especially those who are innocent.

  • There is an innocence to Tom Robinson and Boo Radley that compares to that of Simon.

From the beginning of each narrative those who are different are ridiculed by others. For instance, Boo Radley's family is demeaned by the town gossips, and Boo, about whom rumors circulate, is considered a "haint" by the children. Yet, there is an intrinsic goodness in both Boo and Simon, who strive to protect others from evil; moreover, both risk their lives in this effort as Boo defends the children against Bob Ewell and Simon attempts to tell the group what the "beast" is, but becomes the victim of the ranting hunters instead. Likewise, Tom Robinson, weakened by the unjust Jim Crow culture, falls victim to the racial hatred of the empowered majority in Maycomb. 

  • There are rational processes through which Jem and Piggy proceed.

Several of the arguments that the siblings have result from Jem's more mature reasoning abilities as Scout reacts more emotionally to situations. In Chapter 14, for example, Scout narrates that Jem's "maddening superiority was unbearable" after he tells her that she does not understand why their father has been arguing with his sister.  Later, when Dill runs away from home and hides under Scout's bed, Jem tells Atticus that their friend is in the house with them, leading Scout to complain that he has broken "the remaining code of our childhood." 

Similar to the arguments between Jem and Scout, there are those between Ralph and the more mature, reasonable Piggy. Often he reminds Ralph that they must be rational,

"What are we? Humans? Or animals? Or savages. What are grownups going to think?"

Like Jem, Piggy provides a tie to the adult world as he is the voice of reason. 

  • There is a certain envy in the heart of man that is demonstrated in the characters of Bob Ewell and Jack Merridew and Roger. 

"Bullocks to the rules," Jack shouts in answer to the civilized arguments of Ralph. "We're strong--we hunt!" This primal response to reason is certainly paralleled by Bob Ewell's visceral response of spitting tobacco on Atticus Finch after Atticus's rational demolition of Ewell's false testimony in the courtroom. Furthermore, his attack upon the children is certainly similiar to Jack's and the hunter's brutal beating of Simon. Ewell's sadism is also comparable to Roger's sadistic hurling of the granite boulder upon Piggy.  

  • There is a final recognition of "the evil that men do" [Julius Caesar] in Dill and Ralph, who weep.

After the ignominious trial of Tom Robinson, Dill weeps as he mourns what Mr. Raymond calls

"...the simple hell people give other people without even thinking."

Likewise, at the end of Lord of the Flies, Ralph weeps for

...the end of innocence, the darkness of man's heart....

Indeed, there are characters in both To Kill a Mockingbird and Lord of the Flies who serve to exemplify the inherent traits of human nature.


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Lord of the Flies

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