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In Lord of the Flies one of the central conflicts is Jack's alliances (known as the hunters) versus Ralph's alliances (made up primarily of Piggy, Simon, Samneric, and some Little Uns).
This conflict emerges almost immediately because Ralph (at Piggy's direction) blows the conch shell and attracts the surviving boys on the island. Jack is the leader of the choir boys. On page 20, Piggy instructs Ralph to use the conch:
“We can use this to call the others. Have a meeting. They’ll come when they hear us—”
When the surviving boys see Ralph and the conch, they immediately associate the conch with leadership and order. They assume Ralph, due to his age and his ability to blow the conch, is a leader. The choir boys emerge, led by Jack, and it is evident that Jack considers himself a natural and predetermined leader.
"The boy who controlled them was dressed in the sameway though his cap badge was golden. When his party was about ten yards from the platform he shouted an order and they halted, gasping, sweating, swaying in the fierce light. The boy himself came forward, vaulted on to the platform with his cloak flying, and peered into what to him was almost complete darkness" (24-25).
When the boys suggest that they need a "chief" to decide on "things," Jack immediately declares, "I ought to be chief ... because I’m chapter chorister and head boy. I can sing C sharp” (28). Upon a vote, the boys elect Ralph as leader and therefore create a division that will remain throughout the text: Jack's Hunters and Ralph's alliance.
This conflict between the two groups grows deadly on more than one occasion. Jack and his group become obsessed with power, authority, and brutality. They initially exert their malevolence on the natural world around them. This results in a second conflict of man versus nature. In the chapter titled, "Painted Faces and Long Hair," the hunters make their first successful kill.
"The gutted carcass of a pig swung from the stake, swinging heavily as the twins toiled over the uneven ground. The pig’s head hung down with gaping neck and seemed to search for something on the ground. At last the words of the chant floated up to them, across the bowl of blackened wood and ashes.
“Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Spill her blood" (96).
The idea of hunting becomes an obsession and the hunters reason for being in many ways. Rather than hunting responsibly, the boys are lost in the hunt and the adrenaline rush they receive from capturing and killing the pigs. They will eventually kill the sow on the island. This is a horrible mistake because without the sow, there will be no more pigs to hunt. This ultimately cuts off a major food supply. The hunters' careless attitude about the island will lead to destruction of the majority of the fire in the final chapters. Jack's desire to destroy Ralph and any other symbol of competing authority, leads to his division of a plan to "smoke him out" in chapter twelve. The hunters set a fire that ironically rescues the boys, but destroys the majority of the island.
A third major conflict in the text is man versus society. This conflict is illustrated by two characters and their struggle with society. The first character who struggles against society (in this case the hunters) is Piggy. Because Piggy has glasses or "specs" and "ass-mar," the hunters and Jack view him as a target for ridicule and exclusion. Piggy also respects and relies on Ralph's authority as a source of protection. This is symbolized in the authority of the conch shell. This conflict comes to a culmination in chapter 11 at the base of Castle Rock. In one last attempt to unify the boys, Ralph, Piggy, and their remaining allies try to speak to Jack and his hunters. Piggy argues,
“I got this to say. You’re acting like a crowd of kids.” The booing rose and died again as Piggy lifted the white, magic shell.
“Which is better—to be a pack of painted Indians like you are, or to be sensible like Ralph is?”
A great clamor rose among the savages. Piggy shouted again. “Which is better—to have rules and agree, or to hunt and kill?" (259).
Roger, an innately evil boy, responds by prying a boulder loose and crushing Piggy and the conch shell. The last symbols of order, rules, and civilization are destroyed. With Piggy's death, Ralph is aware that his life is short lived. He begins to run for his life.
A second character who engages in a conflict with society is Simon. Simon symbolizes innate goodness and kindness. He is originally a choir boy who is subject to fainting spells, but quickly becomes an ally of Ralph's. Simon is not accepted by the others because he is different (not unlike Piggy). Simon is not afraid of the imaginary "beastie" on the island; in fact he deduces that maybe the "beastie" is the boys themselves.
Ultimately Simon meets his demise during a night of storms, dancing, and a bonfire on the beach. On his way back to report to the boys that the beastie is really a deceased pilot whose parachute trapped him in the trees, the boys (led by Jack and his hunters) attack Simon as he exits the forest. The boys are so entranced by their dancing and chanting, “Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!” that they do not realize or care that they are attacking a little boy (218). The boys move as that "of a single organism" and become a "horseshoe" around the "thing... crawling out of the forest" (218). Simon's death is particularly vicious.
"The beast struggled forward, broke the ring and fell over the steep edge of the rock to the sand by the water. At once the crowd surged after it, poured down the rock, leapt on to the beast, screamed, struck, bit, tore. There were no words, and no movements but the tearing of teeth and claws" (219).
Simon's death symbolizes a loss of purity and goodness from the island. It is from this point that the groups diverge for good. Ralph and Piggy remain in denial for their role in Simon's death, but they are aware that he is gone and they have lost a valuable ally as a result.
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