In Lord of the Flies, how does the boys' social organization on the island develop? Why does it collapse eventually?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Lord of the Flies, when the boys find themselves stranded on a desert island with no adults to guide and organize them, some of them recognize the immediate need to be organized if they are to survive. Piggy and Ralph call the boys together by blowing the conch and it soon becomes apparent that there are many boys on the island. Once all the boys are together Ralph suggests that they need a chief to make decisions. Despite Jack's protests, Ralph, who has "the trumpet-thing" (the conch), is voted as chief and immediately begins to organize the boys. Ralph even recognizes the need to placate Jack by suggesting that he is needed to organize the choir boys or "hunters" as Jack prefers them to be called.

The conch serves its most useful purpose from this point and is used to prevent all the boys from talking at once. Whoever holds the conch has a right to speak and even Jack is forced to concede to its authority. He is especially reluctant to do so and sometimes when Piggy talks Jack has little respect for the conch and makes every effort to belittle Piggy.

As time goes on, the boys become increasingly difficult to manage as they do not want to build shelters and bring water to the camp. Even the rescue fire is allowed to go out and it is clear that having no "grown ups" is affecting the boys' ability to reason or think of the consequences of their actions or of the future. They find Jack's ideas of fun interesting and his promises are inviting when he tells them that "we hunt and feast and have fun."

After Simon dies when he is mistaken for the beast during the boys' frenzied chanting and dancing, Ralph no longer has faith in his own abilities and the "tribe" is not interested in Piggy's suggestion that they need to be "sensible like Ralph" rather than "like a crowd of kids" (ch 11). Piggy tries to impress upon the "savages" that it is better to "have rules and agree" than it is to hunt and kill but he is ineffective and Jack's tribe is "a solid mass of menace that bristled with spears." The conch and Piggy significantly "ceased to exist" simultaneously and any form of organization collapses due to the boys' decline and instinctively savage behavior. 

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Lord of the Flies

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