Compare Lord of the flies to a parable and explain the didactic message of the novel. What moral order is conveyed in it? What ills of contemporary civilization does the novel criticize?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A parable imparts a message as taught by Jesus, who used simple stories to help people understand his teachings in the context of their own lives. A didactic message serves a similar purpose as Jesus's parables in that it is intended as a tool to teach people and guide them according to a moral code. The didactic message of Lord of the Flies is a warning by Golding that each person, even the seemingly innocent children, possesses a basic instinct which will render him selfish and self-serving if he is not encouraged to concur or behave according to a set of rules. 

The moral order in the novel is concerned with the inner conflict between order and chaos. However, even with a set of rules and instructions and the symbolic conch, the boys can still not meet the expectations of a civilized society and they will ultimately fail because Ralph, even with Piggy's help, is not strong enough to protect the boys from themselves.

The narrator of Lord of the Flies is set apart from the story, only observing the boys' actions, and this allows him to comment on but not affect the actions in any way. Golding uses the personalities of the boys to create a microcosm of society and to suggest that the elements of human nature such as anger and aggression are more powerful than kindness and goodness.

Ralph is the leader, Piggy is the rational one, and Simon is the benevolent one who is willing to serve and assist wherever he is needed. He goes with Ralph and Jack to search the island, he helps build shelters when everyone else goes off to play, and ultimately he recognizes the fear in each of the boys as being something so powerful it has the capacity to destroy them. He is killed when he tries to share the very message which has the capacity to save the boys. Ironically he is mistaken for the beast, the symbol of the unrecognizable savagery in each of the boys. In comparison with a parable, Jesus instructs people but in sharing his message, he is also misunderstood and suffers and dies.

Contemporary society is violent and Golding is warning people of the propensity for brutal behavior. The book is set during World War II and as the boys struggle on the island, the skies above them bear testament to the inhuman aspects of war. Unless people recognize their own inner "beast" and take steps to change their tendency toward violence, there is little hope for a prosperous, generous and kind universe. The moral dilemma which the boys are faced with comes to its natural conclusion with the only importance being survival of the fittest. 

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Lord of the Flies

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