The setting is crucial, as it allows Golding to explore the fine line between civilization and savagery, the book's dominant theme. Historically, the West likes to think of itself as thoroughly civilized, looking down on cultures it sees as "backward" or "undeveloped." The boys in Lord of the Flies are no different. Hailing from an elite background, they share the common prejudices of their social class. They regard themselves as young English gentleman, whose mission is to fly the flag of civilization in this strange, exotic land. Even Jack, the eventual leader of the pig-sticking savages, is initially signed up to this ennobling ideal:
We've got to have rules and obey them. After all we're not savages.
Suffice to say that this civilizing mission doesn't go according to plan. Most of these young English gents descend into outright savagery, indiscriminately shedding blood of both boy and pig alike. In their descent, the boys reenact the original Fall, when Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge and introduced sin into the world. Golding uses what appears to be an Edenic paradise to make a point about the inherent fallibility of human nature, so starkly illustrated by the boys and their truly shocking behavior.