In William Golding's Lord of the Flies, is the boys' vote on whether the ghost exists foolish? Please explain.

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The characters in William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies are all uniformed English schoolboys between the ages of five or six and thirteen or so. They are on an island because their plane crashed, and they have no rules other than those they create and no authorities other than the older boys. While it is true that the boys had all been living in boarding schools before the crash and should be used to living without their parents, the island is a fearful place to them at night, when they are most vulnerable to reliving the crash that brought them here. 

At a meeting, one of the littluns (Percival) asks what Ralph, their elected leader, plans to do about the beasts. It is clear to Ralph that Percival must be waking up in the night and seeing the swaying vines ("creepers") which hang from the jungle trees. Unfortunately for Ralph, the conversation continues and grows even more outrageous as the boys speculate about what this beast might be. 

Jack has hunted the entire island and has seen no beasts, but the boys are not convinced. Simon timidly suggests that perhaps the beast is just them, but he is quickly shouted down.

Finally, in an attempt to dispel the boys' fears, Ralph decides to take a vote on whether or not they are going believe in ghosts. The older boys know this is foolish, but Ralph hopes that voting that ghosts do not exist might help ease the boys' fears. The vote does not work, as lots of hands are raised to signal that they do believe in ghosts. Jack is derisive and dismisses the entire discussion, and Piggy just shouts "I didn't vote for no ghosts!" 

While it seems like a foolish idea to vote on the existence of ghosts and beasts, Ralph was trying the only thing he could think of to help the littluns get over their fears. Reason and logic were not effective, so he tried this tactic. It did not work, but it was worth a try. 

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Lord of the Flies

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